Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Christoph Brehm

Second Advisor

Dr. Jonathan Wenk


Following the successful landing of the Curiosity rover on the Martian surface in 2012, NASA/JPL conducted the low-density supersonic decelerator (LDSD) missions to develop large diameter parachutes to land the increasingly heavier payloads being sent to the Martian surface. Unexpectedly, both of the tested parachutes failed far below their design loads. It became clear that there was an inability to model and predict loads that occur during supersonic parachute inflation. In this dissertation, a new computational method that was developed to provide NASA with the capability to simulate supersonic parachute inflation is presented and validated. The method considers the loose coupling of two different immersed boundary methods with a nonlinear finite element solver. Following validation on canonical FSI problems, methods to simulate the permeability of parachute broadcloth and to identify and enforce contact in parallel are presented and validated. The coupled solvers are first applied to the supersonic parachute problem on a sub-scale MSL parachute and capsule geometry, and subsequently, a full-scale test flight from the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiments (ASPIRE) is simulated. To the best of the author’s knowledge, these are the first FSI simulations to match the ASPIRE flight test data.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This work was supported by the NASA Kentucky Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Research Infrastructure Development Grant (RIDG) program through grant number RIDG-17-005 in 2017-2018.

This work was supported by the Computational Aerosciences Branch at NASA Ames Research Center through grant number 80NSSC18K0883 in 2019.

This work was supported by NASA's Entry Systems Modeling (ESM) project and NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate's (ARMD) Transformational Tools and Technologies project in 2020 and 2021.