Microgravity Science and Planetary Environments

Simulations of Mars for the Phoenix Mission

The Canadian Space Agency with the help of a group of Canadian scientists is contributing the meteorological station MET on board of the Phoenix Lander. The MET instruments will provide atmospheric measurements that will complement the surface and sub-surface data obtained by other Phoenix instruments for a complete picture of the water cycle from the regolith to the upper atmosphere. The Phoenix MET station is the first Canadian contribution to a planetary lander.

Through his participation in the Canadian Science Team of Phoenix, Dr. Lange and his team in the CFD-Lab are applying advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools to simulate the Martian environment, quantifying the effect of winds and of the lander itself on the measurements that will be performed by the Canadian MET station. The CFD-Lab is also developing models to understand the transport of water vapour between the ice in the regolith and the atmosphere, and how this transport is affected by prevailing winds.

When the originally planned anemometer for Phoenix was descoped, the CFD-Lab designed a telltale wind sensor and demonstrated that it could be used to indicate wind speed and direction with help of the onboard camera. The group then collaborated with researchers at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, who developed and tested the telltale wind sensor that is now mounted on top of the Canadian MET mast on Phoenix. Students working in the CFD-Lab are not only trained in the latest technologies in computer simulation of heat and mass transfer processes, but they also derive huge motivation from participating in this first Canadian contribution to a planetary lander mission.

Phoenix Mission