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.
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