Solid carbon produced during the simulation of re-entry in the Titan atmosphere by means of an arc-driven flow facility

Antonio Esposito, Marcello Lappa, Gennaro Zuppardi, Christophe Allouis, Barbara Apicella, Mario Commodo, Patrizia Minutolo, Carmela Russo

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Spacecraft entry into Titan’s atmosphere has been investigated using a dedicated (Small Planetary Entry Simulator) facility (SPES). While in earlier works much attention was paid to the joint numerical-experimental simulation of typical entry physical parameters (namely, heat flux and total enthalpy); in the present analysis we focus on some unexpected results recently obtained at the University of Naples, in collaboration with CNR, in the framework of a new test campaign dedicated to various planetary atmospheres (including Titan itself). Such findings concern the presence of a carbon-like substance on the surface of the measuring probes used for the experiments, which seem to align with the results yielded by other authors with other strategies (an inductive plasma torch). We have confirmed the carbonaceous nature of such particulate matter via various diagnostic techniques such as SEM, Raman, FT-IR, UV-visible absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy, GC-MS and TGA. The present work is devoted to the presentation of such results together with a critical discussion of the novelty relating to the present experimental approach (arc plasma versus inductive torch) and an analysis of the chemical-physical differences pertaining to the carbon obtained with the two different methods.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2019
EventThe International Conference on Flight vehicles, Aerothermodynamics and Re-entry Missions and Engineering - Monopoli, Italy
Duration: 30 Sep 20193 Oct 2019


ConferenceThe International Conference on Flight vehicles, Aerothermodynamics and Re-entry Missions and Engineering
Abbreviated titleFAR 2019


  • entry simulation
  • solid carbon
  • SPES facility

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