21 research outputs found

    Generation of Performance Model for the Aeolian Wind Tunnel (AWT) Rotor at Reduced Pressure

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    The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) designed the Mars Helicopter (MH) in collaboration with AeroVironment Inc., NASA Ames Research Center, and NASA Langley Research Center to explore the possibility of a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for flight on Mars. A 40-inch-diameter Aeolian Wind Tunnel (AWT) rotor, roughly approximating the proposed MH design by JPL, was tested in forward flight at Mars atmospheric pressure at the NASA Ames Planetary Aeolian Laboratory (PAL) in support of MH research efforts. This report describes the generation of the rotor model used to correlate with that experimental effort as reported by Ament and Koning. The 40-inch-diameter rotor was 3D-scanned and transformed into an airfoil deck. The scanned rotor airfoil sections are analyzed using C81 Generator (C81Gen) to generate the sectional aerodynamic coefficients for comprehensive analyses. A mid-fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation using Rotorcraft CFD (RotCFD) is pursued to efficiently estimate rotor hover and forward flight performance. Simulations at two pressures, 7 mbar (approximate Martian atmospheric pressure) and 1018 mbar (1 atmosphere), are performed to gain an understanding of the performance differences and Reynolds number effects observed. Experimental 1-atmosphere thrust for single- and dual-rotor isolated hover cases correlate well with the modeled rotor. Performance results at reduced pressure (7 mbar) show a drastic decrease in lift for equivalent RPMs tested at 1 atmosphere. Although this is primarily due to pressure reduction, Reynolds number effects also contribute to this decrease, as airfoil lift and drag coefficients are affected when compared with 1-atmosphere results. Further, simulated rotor power coefficient shows drastic increases at reduced pressures, attributed to laminar boundary layer separation, as described in Koning et al. for the MH rotor analysis. PAL experimental Martian Surface Wind Tunnel (MARSWIT) results are presented in the paper by Ament and Koning. The very low Reynolds number range is currently not well understood and presents various challenges for both experimentation and simulation

    Optimization of Low Reynolds Number Airfoils for Martian Rotor Applications Using an Evolutionary Algorithm

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    The Mars Helicopter (MH) will be flying on the NASA Mars 2020 rover mission scheduled to launch in July of 2020. Research is being performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and NASA Ames Research Center to extend the current capabilities and develop the Mars Science Helicopter (MSH) as the next possible step for Martian rotorcraft. The low atmospheric density and the relatively small-scale rotors result in very low chord-based Reynolds number flows over the rotor airfoils. The low Reynolds number regime results in rapid performance degradation for conventional airfoils due to laminar separation without reattachment. Unconventional airfoil shapes with sharp leading edges are explored and optimized for aerodynamic performance at representative Reynolds-Mach combinations for a concept rotor. Sharp leading edges initiate immediate flow separation, and the occurrence of large-scale vortex shedding is found to contribute to the relative performance increase of the optimized airfoils, compared to conventional airfoil shapes. The oscillations are shown to occur independent from laminar-turbulent transition and therefore result in sustainable performance at lower Reynolds numbers. Comparisons are presented to conventional airfoil shapes and peak lift-to-drag ratio increases between 17% and 41% are observed for similar section lift

    Wind Tunnel Interference Effects on Tilt Rotor Testing Using Computational Fluid Dynamics

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    Experimental techniques to measure rotorcraft aerodynamic performance are widely used. However, most of them are either unable to capture interference effects from bodies, or require an extremely large computational budget. The objective of the present research is to develop an XV-15 Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft rotor model for investigation of wind tunnel wall interference using a novel Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) solver for rotorcraft, RotCFD. In RotCFD, a mid-fidelity URANS solver is used with an incompressible flow model and a realizable k- turbulence model. The rotor is, however, not modeled using a computationally expensive, unsteady viscous body-fitted grid, but is instead modeled using a blade element model with a momentum source approach. Various flight modes of the XV-15 isolated rotor, including hover, tilt and airplane mode, have been simulated and correlated to existing experimental and theoretical data. The rotor model is subsequently used for wind tunnel wall interference simulations in the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) at NASA Ames Research Center in California. The results from the validation of the isolated rotor performance showed good correlation with experimental and theoretical data. The results were on par with known theoretical analyses. In RotCFD the setup, grid generation and running of cases is faster than many CFD codes, which makes it a useful engineering tool. Performance predictions need not be as accurate as high-fidelity CFD codes, as long as wall effects can be properly simulated. For both test sections of the NFAC wall interference was examined by simulating the XV-15 rotor in the test section of the wind tunnel and with an identical grid but extended boundaries in free field. Both cases were also examined with an isolated rotor or with the rotor mounted on the modeled geometry of the Tiltrotor Test Rig (TTR). A 'quasi linear trim' was used to trim the thrust for the rotor to compare the power as a unique variable. Power differences between free field and wind tunnel cases were found from -7 % to 0 % in the 80- by 120-Foot Wind Tunnel test section and -1.6 % to 4.8 % in the 40- by 80-Foot Wind Tunnel, depending on the TTR orientation, tunnel velocity and blade setting. The TTR will be used in 2016 to test the Bell 609 rotor in a similar fashion to the research in this report

    Improved Mars Helicopter Aerodynamic Rotor Model for Comprehensive Analyses

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    The Mars Helicopter is part of the NASA Mars 2020 rover mission scheduled to launch in July of 2020. Its goal is to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles in the Martian atmosphere. Ultimately, it aims to bridge the resolution gap between orbiters and the rover as well as allow access to otherwise inaccessible regions. The low density of the Martian atmosphere and the relatively small-scale rotor result in very low Reynolds number flows. The low density and low Reynolds numbers reduce the lifting force and lifting efficiency, respectively. This paper describes the generation of the improved Mars Helicopter aerodynamic rotor model. The goal is to generate a performance model for the Mars Helicopter rotor using a free wake analysis, since this has a low computational cost for design. The improvements in the analysis are two-fold and are expanded on from two prior publications. First, the fidelity of the simulations is increased by performing higher-order two-dimensional time-accurate OVERFLOW simulations allowing for higher accuracy aerodynamic coefficients and a better understanding of the boundary layer behavior as well as its transient features. Second, a version of the model is generated to duplicate the exact testing conditions in the 25-ft. diameter Space Simulator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which allows for better correlation of rotor performance figures. Previous work correlated performance with that test, but did not consider the higher temperatures in the experiment compared to those of the Martian atmosphere. The higher temperatures in the experiment are expected to give conservative performance estimates, as they give rise to an increase in speed of sound and decrease in observed Reynolds numbers

    Generation of Mars Helicopter Rotor Model for Comprehensive Analyses

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    The present research is aimed at providing a performance model for the Mars Helicopter (MH), to understand the complexity of the flow, and identify future regions of improvement. The low density of the Martian atmosphere and the relatively small MH rotor, result in very low chord-based Reynolds number flows. The low density and Reynolds numbers reduce the lifting force and lifting efficiency, respectively. The high drag coefficients in subcritical flow, especially for thicker sections, are attributed to laminar separation from the rear of the airfoil. In the absence of test data, efforts have been made to explore these effects using prior very low Reynolds number research efforts. The rotor chord-based Reynolds number range is observed to be subcritical, which makes boundary layer transition unlikely to occur. The state of the two-dimensional rotor boundary layer in hover is approximated by calculating the instability point, laminar separation point, and the transition location to provide understanding of the flow state in the high Mach-low Reynolds number regime. The results are used to investigate the need for turbulence modeling in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) calculations afterwards. The goal is to generate a performance model for the MH rotor for a free wake analysis, because the computational budget for a complete Navier-Stokes solution for a rotating body-fitted rotor is substantial. In this study, a Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) based approach is used to generate the airfoil deck using C81Gen with stitched experimental data for very high angles of attack. A full Grid Resolution Study is performed and over 4,500 cases are completed to create the full airfoil deck. The laminar separation locations are predicted within the accuracy of the approximate method when compared with the CFD calculations. The model is presented through airfoil data tables (c81 files) that are used by comprehensive rotor analysis codes such as CAMRADII, or the mid-fidelity CFD solver RotCFD. Finally, the rotor performance is compared with experimental data from the 25ft Space Simulator at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and shows good correlation for the rotor Figure of Merit over the available thrust range

    Mid-Fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics Analysis of the Elytron 4S UAV Concept

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    The Elytron 4S Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Concept was developed to combine the advantages of fixed- and rotary-wing technology. The 4S Concept is a box-wing configuration with rotors mounted on a centrally located tiltwing. The UAV is intended to be capable of both conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and is envisioned to excel in UAV performance because of the combined efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft and the hover and VTOL capabilities of regular drones or quadcopters. A mid-fidelity Unsteady Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (URANS) approach using Rotorcraft CFD (RotCFD) is performed to analyze and characterize the performance of the aircraft. The flow field is coupled with a rotor model based on blade-element momentum theory to model the 4S UAV rotors. Turbulence is modeled using a realizable k- turbulence model with special wall function. The code is used to generate aerodynamic forces and moments on the body at cruise conditions, and during VTOL. The results and their uncertainties are characterized, and an angle- of-attack and sideslip sweep are computed, both with and without rotors on. Simulations are compared with the wind tunnel tests in the 7- by 10-Foot U.S. Army Wind Tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center, performed in 2017. Results show promising comparison with experimental data, despite a late change in rotor size and rudder size of the physical model that cause the expected deviations from the simulation. A slight change in the net thrust value, when rotors are modeled, is observed because of the rotor diameter increase on the physical model. A noticeable difference in the directional stability was observed because of the increased rudder surface and added strakes. These changes were implemented to improve on the design as simulated, which is observed in the results. The simulation results paved the way to the first successful flight of the UAV Concept

    Isolated Rotor Forward Flight Testing from One Atmosphere down to Martian Atmospheric Densities

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    With the recent interest in Martian exploration using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), an experimental study was conducted to investigate rotor performance at Martian atmospheric conditions. Both simulation and testing of rotors is vital for the evaluation of performance and behavior of a rotor, especially when subjected to a Marian atmosphere. One critical test that has not been performed to date is simulated helicopter forward flight in a Martian atmosphere. To achieve this, the test must be conducted in a facility which can be evacuated to the atmospheric pressure and density of Mars. A unique 40-in diameter rotor, roughly approximating a proposed design for a Mars Helicopter (MH), was tested in forward flight at Mars atmospheric pressure at the NASA Ames Planetary Aeolian Laboratory (PAL). The goal of this experiment was to collect rotor thrust, RPM, power, torque, and acoustics measurements. Subsequently, these results are compared with simulated cases using a mid-fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) approach. As expected, rotor thrust and power results are drastically reduced when under low atmospheric conditions. In addition, Reynolds number effects seem to play a vital role that cannot be neglected

    Low Reynolds Number Airfoil Evaluation for the Mars Helicopter Rotor

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    The present research is aimed at providing a performance model for the Mars Helicopter (MH), to understand the complexity of the flow, and future regions of improvement. The Martian atmosphere's low density and the MH's relatively small rotor result in very low chord-based Reynolds number flows, Rec = O(10(exp 3)-10(exp 4)). The low density and subcritical Reynolds number reduce the lifting force and lifting efficiency, respectively. The high drag coefficients in subcritical flow, especially for thicker sections, are attributed to laminar separation from the rear of the airfoil. The goal is to generate a performance model for the MH rotor for a free wake analysis, since the computational budget for a complete Navier-Stokes solution for a rotating body-fitted rotor is substantial. In this study, a RANS-based approach is used to generate the airfoil deck using OVERFLOW with stitched experimental data for very high angles of attack. The model is presented through airfoil data tables (C81 files) that are used by comprehensive rotor analysis codes such as CAMRADII, or the mid-fidelity CFD solver RotCFD. These codes have proven to provide accurate performance predictions for all rotor operations at only a fraction of the computational expense of three- dimensional body-fitted viscous grids

    Using RotCFD to Predict Isolated XV-15 Rotor Performance

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    Experimental techniques to measure rotorcraft aerodynamic performance are widely used. However, the need exists to understand the limitations of ground based testing by augmenting the analysis of experimental test results with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling. The immediate objective of the present research is to develop an XV-15 Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft rotor model for investigation of wind tunnel wall interference. The predicted performance of the XV-15 during various flight modes is compared to theoretical and experimental data. This research is performed to support wind tunnel tests scheduled for 2016. A mid-fidelity RANS solver, RotCFD, is used with an unsteady, incompressible flow model and a realizable k- turbulence model. The rotor is modeled using an actuator disk model or blade element model with a momentum source approach. In RotCFD the setup, grid generation and running of cases is faster than many CFD codes which makes it a useful engineering tool. Performance predictions need not be as accurate as high-fidelity CFD codes, as long as wall effects can be properly simulated. Being able to accurately predict unsteady rotorcraft performance on desktop-class computers provides a quicker analysis of highly complex flows during the initial design phase

    Mars Science Helicopter Conceptual Design

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    Robotic planetary aerial vehicles increase the range of terrain that can be examined, compared to traditional landers and rovers, and have more near-surface capability than orbiters. Aerial mobility is a promising possibility for planetary exploration as it reduces the challenges that difficult obstacles pose to ground vehicles. The first use of a rotorcraft for a planetary mission will be in 2021, when the Mars Helicopter technology demonstrator will be deployed from the Mars 2020 rover. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA Ames Research Center are exploring possibilities for a Mars Science Helicopter, a second-generation Mars rotorcraft with the capability of conducting science investigations independently of a lander or rover (although this type of vehicle could also be used assist rovers or landers in future missions). This report describes the conceptual design of Mars Science Helicopters. The design process began with coaxial-helicopter and hexacopter configurations, with a payload in the range of two to three kilograms and an overall vehicle mass of approximately twenty kilograms. Initial estimates of weight and performance were based on the capabilities of the Mars Helicopter. Rotorcraft designs for Mars are constrained by the dimensions of the aeroshell for the trip to the planet, requiring attention to the aircraft packaging in order to maximize the rotor dimensions and hence overall performance potential. Aerodynamic performance optimization was conducted, particularly through airfoils designed specifically for the low Reynolds number and high Mach number inherent in operation on Mars. The final designs show a substantial capability for science operations on Mars: a 31 kg hexacopter that fits within a 2.5 m diameter aeroshell could carry a 5 kg payload for 10 min of hover time or over a range of 5 km
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