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The HYTHIRM Project: Flight Thermography of the Space Shuttle During the Hypersonic Re-entryThis report describes a NASA Langley led endeavor sponsored by the NASA Engineering Safety Center, the Space Shuttle Program Office and the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate to demonstrate a quantitative thermal imaging capability. A background and an overview of several multidisciplinary efforts that culminated in the acquisition of high resolution calibrated infrared imagery of the Space Shuttle during hypervelocity atmospheric entry is presented. The successful collection of thermal data has demonstrated the feasibility of obtaining remote high-resolution infrared imagery during hypersonic flight for the accurate measurement of surface temperature. To maximize science and engineering return, the acquisition of quantitative thermal imagery and capability demonstration was targeted towards three recent Shuttle flights - two of which involved flight experiments flown on Discovery. In coordination with these two Shuttle flight experiments, a US Navy NP-3D aircraft was flown between 26-41 nautical miles below Discovery and remotely monitored surface temperature of the Orbiter at Mach 8.4 (STS-119) and Mach 14.7 (STS-128) using a long-range infrared optical package referred to as Cast Glance. This same Navy aircraft successfully monitored the Orbiter Atlantis traveling at approximately Mach 14.3 during its return from the successful Hubble repair mission (STS-125). The purpose of this paper is to describe the systematic approach used by the Hypersonic Thermodynamic Infrared Measurements team to develop and implement a set of mission planning tools designed to establish confidence in the ability of an imaging platform to reliably acquire, track and return global quantitative surface temperatures of the Shuttle during entry. The mission planning tools included a pre-flight capability to predict the infrared signature of the Shuttle. Such tools permitted optimization of the hardware configuration to increase signal-to-noise and to maximize the available dynamic range while mitigating the potential for saturation. Post flight, analysis tools were used to assess atmospheric effects and to convert the 2-D intensity images to 3-D temperature maps of the windward surface. Comparison of the spatially resolved global thermal measurements to surface thermocouples and CFD prediction is made. Successful demonstration of a quantitative, spatially resolved, global temperature measurement on the Shuttle suggests future applications towards hypersonic flight test programs within NASA, DoD and DARPA along with flight test opportunities supporting NASA's project Constellation.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Langley Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Horvath, Thomas J.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Tomek, Deborah M.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Berger, Karen T.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Zalameda, Joseph N.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Splinter, Scott C.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Krasa, Paul W.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Schwartz, Richard J.
(ATK Space Hampton, VA, United States)
Gibson, David M.
(Johns Hopkins Univ. Laurel, MD, United States)
Tietjen, Alan B.
(Innovative Science and Technology Experimentation Facility (ISTEF) Cocoa Beach, FL, United States)
Tack, Steve
(Naval Air Warfare Center Point Mugo, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
January 4, 2010
Subject Category
Instrumentation And Photography
Report/Patent Number
AIAA Paper 2010-241
Meeting Information
Meeting: 48th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting
Location: Orlando, FL
Country: United States
Start Date: January 4, 2010
End Date: January 7, 2010
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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