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Aerospace 2016, 3(1), 2; doi:10.3390/aerospace3010002

Analysis of Radio Frequency Blackout for a Blunt-Body Capsule in Atmospheric Reentry Missions

Division of Mechanical and Space Engineering, Hokkaido University, Kita 13 Nishi 8, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0808, Japan
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Konstantinos Kontis
Received: 9 December 2015 / Revised: 25 December 2015 / Accepted: 31 December 2015 / Published: 6 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Aerospace)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [5366 KB, uploaded 6 January 2016]   |  


A numerical analysis of electromagnetic waves around the atmospheric reentry demonstrator (ARD) of the European Space Agency (ESA) in an atmospheric reentry mission was conducted. During the ARD mission, which involves a 70% scaled-down configuration capsule of the Apollo command module, radio frequency blackout and strong plasma attenuation of radio waves in communications with data relay satellites and air planes were observed. The electromagnetic interference was caused by highly dense plasma derived from a strong shock wave generated in front of the capsule because of orbital speed during reentry. In this study, the physical properties of the plasma flow in the shock layer and wake region of the ESA ARD were obtained using a computational fluid dynamics technique. Then, electromagnetic waves were expressed using a frequency-dependent finite-difference time-domain method using the plasma properties. The analysis model was validated based on experimental flight data. A comparison of the measured and predicted results showed good agreement. The distribution of charged particles around the ESA ARD and the complicated behavior of electromagnetic waves, with attenuation and reflection, are clarified in detail. It is suggested that the analysis model could be an effective tool for investigating radio frequency blackout and plasma attenuation in radio wave communication. View Full-Text
Keywords: atmospheric reentry; numerical analysis; radio frequency blackout; plasma flow; electromagnetic waves atmospheric reentry; numerical analysis; radio frequency blackout; plasma flow; electromagnetic waves

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Takahashi, Y.; Nakasato, R.; Oshima, N. Analysis of Radio Frequency Blackout for a Blunt-Body Capsule in Atmospheric Reentry Missions. Aerospace 2016, 3, 2.

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