Abstract

Missions to Mars require the successful development of aerobraking technology, and therefore a blunt cone representative of aerobrake shapes is investigated. Ballistic tests of the Pioneer Venus configuration are conducted in carbon dioxide and air at Mach numbers from 7 to 20 and Reynolds numbers from 0.1 x 10 exp 5 to 4 x 10 exp 6. Experimental results show that for defined conditions aerodynamic research can be conducted in air rather than carbon dioxide, providing savings in time and money. In addition, the results offer a prediction of flight aerodynamics during entry into the Martian atmosphere. Also discussed is a comparison of results from two data-reduction techniques showing that a five-degree-of-freedom routine employing weighted least-squares with differential corrections analyzes ballistic data more accurately.

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