Grad student awarded NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship
The NSTRF program sponsors graduate students who show significant potential to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative new space technologies. Wilson will receive a training grant, and Stephani, as his faculty advisor, will serve as the principal investigator.
Wilson’s research involves developing computational methods for modeling non-equilibrium flows and gas-surface and plasma-surface interactions. This work is of interest to NASA because predictive modeling of chemically reacting flows is essential for the design and optimization of future hypersonic vehicles.
During atmospheric re-entry, complex flow structures form around the vehicle surface, exciting the gas molecules and causing chemical reactions. Wilson said their work seeks to develop a multi-scale, hybrid framework for modeling chemically reacting gas mixtures. The framework is hybrid in the sense that it uses different solution methods in different flow regions. Far-surface equilibrium flows can be characterized using continuum fluid equations, while non-equilibrium flows closer to the vehicle surface are modeled using particle-based kinetic methods. The detailed gas-surface interactions are simulated using molecular dynamics.
“The most exciting aspect of this NASA fellowship is the opportunity to collaborate with top researchers in the field. Part of the fellowship is a ‘visiting technologist experience,’ which will allow me to perform research at various NASA research centers. The software packages we will use in our work have been developed at the NASA Langley and NASA Ames research centers,” said Wilson.