Simulating to the Moon and Mars

Humanity’s quest to explore the far reaches of our solar system promises to yield great opportunities for discovery, research and testing, and could open the door to building life-sustaining outposts and developing new economies. However, space exploration brings with it an incredible number of challenges. One of these is the extreme environments of other planets.

Recent advances in simulation have made it possible for space engineers to take a step closer to future missions on the Moon and Mars. It is now much easier to accurately model the thermal interaction between vehicles and the lunar and Mars surfaces with validated and automated tools.

Previously, engineering simulation software typically provided modeling environments based on the conditions on Earth, including the effects of its atmosphere and solar radiation. It could not provide an accurate model of the extreme environments that exist on the Moon and on Mars.

New features in the most recent version of Simcenter Space Systems Thermal (SC-SST) allow space engineers to launch the power of simulation farther – to accurately model the thermal environments of the Moon and Mars and simulate vehicle-surface interactions. These models make it possible to build vehicles and rovers that are more finely tuned to the lunar and Martian environments. In turn, these improvements can reduce the costs of space exploration and increase the chances of mission success.

Engineers at Maya HTT successfully demonstrated and validated the application of such a simulation. Their results are detailed in “Modeling Lunar and Martian Environments with SimCenter Space Systems Thermal,” a paper presented at the 49th International Conference on Environmental Systems, July 2019, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Specifically, the paper presents the methods Maya HTT engineers used to obtain accurate thermal models of the lunar and Mars surfaces. They were able to simulate the Moon’s poor thermal conductivity, zero-atmosphere conditions and long lunar nights, as well as the diffuse sky illumination and increased sky temperature created by the dust storms and low atmospheric pressure on Mars.

SC-SST is equipped with exciting new features that automate some of the more challenging thermal simulation conditions. It includes both validated reasonable initial temperatures for modelling the lunar surface, and a diffuse sky tool for simulating the effect of solar flux on an object positioned on the surface of Mars. Whereas previously, a solar flux model would have required hours of manual building, testing and validation, SC-SST makes it possible to simply toggle the feature on and adjust the parameters as needed.

Maya HTT is proud to be leading in the development of validated simulation tools to extend the frontiers of successful space exploration.

Download the paper today

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