Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Sathya Gangadharan, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Sandra Boetcher, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

David Vaughan


Supersonic Retro-Propulsion is one of the most promising emerging technologies being considered by NASA for use in future Mars missions. This new form of Entry Descent Landing has the potential to help increase the allowable payload mass currently constraining many science instruments and operations. Computational Fluid Dynamics was used to show the feasibility of supersonic retro - propulsion in Mars atmospheric conditions. The results presented show the SRP will be able to perform satisfactory using the same conditions that the Curiosity Rover was exposed to during its landing sequence. The plume expansion was analyzed for various cases, moving from free stream to supersonic conditions. Several computational methods were also examined to prove the model's accuracy. The mesh, physics models, and boundary conditions were ultimately selected based the on data obtained. The model was originally tested using a novel 1 dimensional software vetted and used by NASA. The bipropellant motor chosen has been flight proven and supported by data not presentable due to ITAR restrictions. The free stream and subsonic conditions analyses were primarily used to compare the supersonic results. The feasibility of supersonic retro - propulsion was proven in showing that even at the highest opposite flow Mach number analyzed, the effects the main jet plume were negligible.