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DSMC Simulation of Rocket Plume Interactions with Extra-Terrestrial Regolith

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Energy and Exergy for Sustainable and Clean Environment, Volume 2

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Soft landings on extra-terrestrial surfaces are vital for any sample return missions. Moreover, during landing on such bodies, dust impingement on the lander module and Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) systems can cause serious complications. To prevent system failures due to scoured regolith, and also minimize contamination of surface regolith for sample collection, the rocket can be used to decelerate the spacecraft to a vertical descent velocity from which it can freefall. A Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) technique is developed to investigate the interaction of rocket plume with surface regolith of an airless extra-terrestrial body. Continuum breaks down as the exhaust exits the engine nozzle, and the gases expand rapidly into the vacuum. Near the nozzle exit, the process enters a rarefied flow regime and an open-source DSMC code is developed to model the movement and collision stages of rarefied plume gas and dust particles. In this simulation, the collision occurs between gas particles of the rocket plume as it impinges on such an extra-terrestrial surface. The solver used for carried out this simulation is dsmcFOAM solver, a part of OpenFOAM. The surface properties such as pressure coefficient and heat flux are computed and analysed to observe the impact of plume impingement on extra-terrestrial regolith.

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Area of the exit of nozzle (m2)


Area of the throat of nozzle (m2)

c :

Soil cohesion (Pa)

c r :

Relative speed of two colliding molecules (m/s)

d :

Diameter of the molecule (m)


Diameter of the exit of nozzle (m)


Thrust of rocket engine (N)


Number of simulated molecules representing a finite number of real molecules


Acceleration due to gravity (m/s2)


Specific impulse of the rocket (s)

K b :

Boltzmann constant (m2kg/s2K)


Knudsen Number


Characteristic length (m)


Mass of the molecule (kg)

\(\dot{m}\) :

Propellant mass flow rate (kg/s)


Mach Number

n :

Number density of molecules


Static pressure (Pa)


Stagnation pressure (Pa)


Static temperature (K)


Stagnation temperature (K)


Time step (s)


Velocity (m/s)


Exhaust velocity of the rocket (m/s)


Size of each cell (m)


Mean free path (m)


Solid collision angle


Internal Friction angle

\(\sigma^{\prime}\) :

Normal Stress to Failure Plane (Pa)


Molecular cross-section (m)


Angle along the cylinder surface from stagnation point


Mass density (kg/m3)

\(\tau\) :

Mean collision time (s)

\(\tau_s\) :

Shear Stress of Lunar soil (Pa)

\(\upsilon_{th}\) :

Average thermal speed (m/s)


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With immense pleasure, we convey our sincere gratitude to Dr. Sandeep Sancheti, (Vice-Chancellor, SRM Institute of Science and Technology), for allowing us to be a part of this esteemed institution. This work would not have been possible without his consent and blessing. We would also like to thank Dr. C. Muthamizhchelvan, (Director, Faculty of Engineering & Technology), for his unwavering support throughout the course of this project.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to Dr. R. Vasudevan, (Professor and Head of Department, Department of Aerospace Engineering) for letting us pursue our work on rocket plume interaction with extra-terrestrial regolith. He encouraged us to explore and take up new challenges in this domain, for which we are truly grateful. We would like to express our thanks to our project guide, Dr. Malaikannan G., (Research Assistant Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering), who has been a constant source of encouragement throughout our project work. He has been a great mentor and it is our pleasure to work under him. Without his valuable guidance, this work would not have been completed.

Lastly, we would like to acknowledge the efforts and support of all members of the faculty at the Department of Aerospace Engineering, who have helped, nurtured and disciplined us throughout the course of our Bachelor’s degree. This project is the culmination of their guidance, critique and supervision, for which we are indebted to them.

This project has been a great opportunity for us to explore and expand our knowledge in our chosen discipline and we are grateful to the Department of Aerospace Engineering, SRM Institute of Science & Technology for giving us this opportunity.

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Correspondence to Isha Mohan Sharma .

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Sharma, I.M., Kadiyala, V.K., Malaikannan, G. (2023). DSMC Simulation of Rocket Plume Interactions with Extra-Terrestrial Regolith. In: Edwin Geo, V., Aloui, F. (eds) Energy and Exergy for Sustainable and Clean Environment, Volume 2. Green Energy and Technology. Springer, Singapore.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-16-8273-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-16-8274-2

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