The transmission and degradation of RF signals through the plasma sheath surrounding hypersonic vehicles is investigated using a DSMC flow solver method. The OpenFoam library dsmcFoam is used to simulate flow around hypersonic bodies and obtain flow field properties to aid in calculations of signal degradation. The study of RF signal degradation and the viability of communications for hypersonic vehicles is of supreme importance for the future of aerospace as hypersonic travel and warfare is becoming technologically possible. Integrating over the output electron number density profile yields values for attenuation that drop below 100 decibels in the transmission window of 10 to 30 GHz. In this window, phase shift values remain between 2 and 10 radians. Outside of this transmission window, attenuation and phase shift are high and indicate poor chance of viable communications. If signal degradation models can be verified and improved with wind tunnel and flight data, these results suggest that vital radar and satellite communications are possible through the plasma sheath and can be decoded using accurately predicted degradation values.

Document Type

Final Report

Author's School

McKelvey School of Engineering

Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Class Name

Mechanical Engineering and Material Sciences Independent Study

Date of Submission