A classification of the descent mode of objects moving under the influence of gravitational and aerodynamic or hydrodynamic forces in stratified medium have significant importance to many areas of engineering and science. For example, for the case of entry-descent-and-landing (EDL) of a spacecraft or probe, or studying seed dispersion patterns. The goal here is to investigate the basic physics of objects descending in stratified fluids under gravitational effects. Although the problem is deterministic, uncertainties in the initial conditions makes the exact landing location very difficult to predict a priori.
We have three main objectives:
- To classify the descent modes and the flight range as functions of the flow stratification parameters and the properties of the descending objects.
- To map out the probability distribution of landing location associated with each descent modes, and understand how an “input” probability distribution of initial conditions into an “output” probability distribution at landing.
- To derive active and passive design and actuation strategies that allow descending objects to meet particular landing requirements, e.g., speed, location, orientation, etc.