Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Alexandre Martin


The present thesis provides a description of historical and current modeling methods with recent discoveries within the ablation community. Several historical assumptions are challenged, namely the presence of water in Thermal Protection System (TPS) materials, presence of coking in TPS materials, non-uniform elemental production during pyrolysis reactions, and boundary layer gases, more specifically oxygen, interactions with the charred carbon interface.

The first topic assess the potential effect that water has when present within the ablator by examining the temperature prole histories of the recent flight case Mars Science Laboratory. The next topic uses experimental data to consider the instantaneous gas species produced as the ablator pyrolyzes. In this study, key gas species are identified and assumed to be unstable within the gas phase; thus, equilibrating to the solid phase. This topic investigates the potential effects due to the these process. The finial topic uses a simplified configuration to study the role of carbon oxidation, from diatomic oxygen, on the ablation modes of a TPS, surface versus volumetric ablation.

Although each of these topics differ in their own right, a common theme is found by understanding the role that common pyrolysis and boundary layer gases species have as they interacts with the porous TPS structure. The main objective of the present thesis is to investigate these questions.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

NASA Kentucky Space Grant Graduate Fellowship