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Ames' Arcjet chamber
Arc Jet Block at NASA Ames Research Center

Thermophysics Facilities Branch

The Thermophysics Facilities Branch (TSF) is responsible for the safe, effective, and efficient operation of the Entry Systems and Technology Division’s high enthalpy facilities. TSF facilities provide unique environmental simulation capability to serve customer-driven aerothermal and thermal response simulation requirements for NASA’s mission directorates. These facilities, including the Arc Jet Complex, the Ballistic Range Complex, and EAST, involve high voltage, high pressure, and vacuum infrastructure with potential operational impacts on other Center activities. Continued safe and efficient operation of these systems requires ongoing development of a wide range of specialized engineering and craft skills, as well as operational best practices. TSF works collaboratively with potential customers to develop test procedures and techniques that maximize customer value and advance Agency missions.

Learn More About The Entry Systems & Technology Division about Thermophysics Facilities Branch


Moffett Field, CA


Ames Research Center

Branch Chief

Scott Eddlemon

Deputy Branch Chief

Peter Race

Focus Areas and Capabilities

Arc Jet Test

Arc Jet Complex

The Ames Arc Jet Complex has a rich heritage of over 55 years in Thermal Protection System (TPS) development for every NASA Space Transportation and Planetary program including Apollo, Space Shuttle, Viking, Pioneer-Venus, Galileo, Mars Pathfinder, MER heatshield, Stardust, NASP, X-33, X-34, SHARP-B1 and B2, X-37 WLE TPS and most recently CEV/Orion heatshield development and Mars Science Laboratory TPS.

Ames Vertical Gun Range

Ballistic Ranges

Providing critical testing support to the Nation’s Research and Development activities in hypervelocity impact physics, aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics , flow-field structure and chemistry.

Overall view of the Ames Electric Arc Shock Tube (EAST)

Electric Arc Shock Tube

Providing ground-based hyperthermal and hypervelocity environments in support of the nation’s research and development activities in thermal protection materials, aerothermodynamics, vehicle structures and hypersonic propulsion and flight.

Planetary Aeolian Laboratory

Planetary Aeolion Laboratory

The Planetary Aeolian Laboratory (PAL) is a unique facility used for conducting experiments and simulations of aeolian processes (windblown particles) under different planetary atmospheric environments, including Earth, Mars, and Saturn’s moon Titan.

Radiation heating


The Laser Enhanced Arc-Jet Facility (LEAF) uses up to four 50-kW continuous wave (CW) infrared lasers (1070nm) to simulate radiative heating on Thermal Protection System (TPS) materials. LEAF is a test capability of the Interaction Heating Facility (IHF) at the NASA Ames Research Center Arc Jet Complex.