Ram Burn Observations (RAMBO) is an experiment in which the Department of Defense uses a satellite to observe space shuttle orbital maneuvering system engine burns. Its purpose is to improve plume models, which predict the direction the plume, or rising column of exhaust, will move as the shuttle maneuvers on orbit. Understanding the direction in which the spacecraft engine plume, or exhaust flows could be significant to the safe arrival and departure of spacecraft on current and future exploration missions.Principal Investigator(s)
United States Department of Defense Space Test Program, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Sponsoring Organization
Department of Defense (DoD) - RetiredResearch Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration:
April 2006 - April 2008Expeditions Assigned
13,14,15,16Previous ISS Missions
RAMBO has been performed on the following Shuttle missions: STS-110, STS-111, STS-112, STS-121 and STS-107 (Columbia), which was lost in 2003.
The Ram Burn Observations (RAMBO) experiment uses a satellite to observe the spectral characteristics and
direction of movement of plumes created from Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) burns in low Earth
orbit. The engine burns create high temperature, high velocity molecular collisions between the chemical species in
the engine exhaust (e.g., H2O and CO) and atomic Oxygen. Three specific objectives are listed below:
Applications in space include an understanding of plume flow fields that could be relevant to the safe approach and departure of shuttles or supply ships to the ISS or other spacecraft. They also include an understanding of background radiance produced by plumes, impacting sensors designed for other observations. More generally the applications include a contribution to understanding any phenomenon related to spacecraft that are impacted by the poorly understood interactions of atoms and molecules at hyperthermal energies that govern the environment about spacecraft in low earth orbit.Earth Applications
While interactions at hyperthermal energies are relatively rare on the surface of the earth there are potential applications relevant to the cutting edge of technology, including the understanding of high temperature plasmas and the production and derivation of energy from controlled fusion power sources.
The DoD Space Test Program support includes providing predicted space shuttle orbiter state vectors to the experiment PI in a timely fashion for setting up and running the experiment. To facilitate the analysis for this experiment the following must be provided: truth data, including engine chamber pressures, orbiter attitude and state vector information.Operational Protocols
The Space Shuttle will activate the OMS engine(s) during normal procedures en route to the ISS and deorbit burns. Each burn will last for at least 10 seconds. During the burn observations, pre-determined vectors plus real time data will be used for the analysis.
This experiment continues on the ISS. Results are pending, but are important for better constraining models for the high-temperature, high-velocity atomic and molecular collisions induced by spacecraft operations. (Evans et al. 2009)
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