System Engineering Analysis and Optimization of a Parabolic Flight Experiment for Thermophysical Property Measurement under Microgravity

Int. J. Microgravity Sci. Appl. 2011_s092
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In order to perform microgravity experiments successfully, analysis of the experiments is strongly recommended by a primary investigator from the viewpoint of system engineering. Thermophysical property measurement using the PFLEX (Parabolic Flight Levitation Experiment facility) under the microgravity condition was analyzed. The experiment system was decomposed into subsystem and component levels, and a bottle neck for the experimental system was extracted, i.e. gravitational change as high as 1.5G during the climb-up phase. The numerical simulation of temperature and velocity fields of gas flow around the high temperature sample indicates that the conventional method for oxygen partial pressure control, i.e. a gas flow method in open space, can not control oxygen partial pressure under the 1.5G condition. Instead, we propose a new control model, i.e. gas flow at a velocity over 0.5 m/s using a glass tube, and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) verified that this model shows a good controllability of oxygen partial pressure even under the 1.5 G condition. The CFD program is more effective than empirical methods on board the aircraft, so as to optimize a gas flow condition.
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