Missoum and Collaborators Develop a Surrogate Aerodynamic Database
The University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics awarded its first round of funding, totaling $25.5 million, to projects that advance the field of hypersonic flight, in which vehicles travel upwards of five times the speed of sound.
Samy Missoum, a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at the University of Arizona, received $1.5 million to lead the development of a surrogate aerodynamic database, an essential tool in the design of next-generation hypersonic systems.
Hypersonic vehicles travel at Mach 5, about 3,830 mph at sea level. Vehicles traveling at such high speeds experience tremendous heat and pressure. To test how a vehicle responds under specific conditions, such as speed and angle of attack, engineers and researchers typically set the desired parameters and run wind tunnel experiments and simplified computations. The results are used to form an aerodynamic database that indicates what forces a vehicle will experience in that configuration. However, wind tunnel tests are expensive to run, and computations do not accurately capture all the relevant flow phenomena.
"Say a scientist wants to estimate the maximum temperature or force on the vehicle under conditions that have not been already tested," said Missoum, director of the university's Computational Optimal Design of Engineering Systems Laboratory. "If you wanted to test several configurations, it would become very time consuming and expensive. This problem becomes even more pronounced as the number of parameters to characterize the hypersonic system increases. The idea of a surrogate aerodynamic database is to allow one to efficiently predict the behavior of a hypersonic vehicle without the need to run a wind tunnel experiment or an expensive computer simulation."
Established in 2020, the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics is a collaboration among academia, government and industry that aims to deliver the workforce and research for modern hypersonic flight systems in support of national defense. UArizona is among the consortium's 87 member universities. The consortium also has 90 industry partners, including Raytheon, and eight national laboratories.
“This tool that we’re creating will be very valuable, if not essential for the design of the new generation of hypersonic systems,” Missoum told KVOA in an interview. His work was also featured in the Arizona Daily Star.