Planetary Entry


Dr. Robert D. Braun
321-5 Knight Building


Required: Regan & Anandakrishnan, Dynamics of Atmospheric Re-Entry, AIAA Education Series, 1993.
Reference: Vinh, Busemann and Culp, Hypersonic and Planetary Entry Flight Mechanics, 2nd edition, University of Michigan Press, 1980.
Reference: Anderson, John D., Hypersonic and High Temperature Gas Dynamics, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1989.
Reference: Ball, Garry, Lorenz, and Kerzhanovich, Planetary Landers and Entry Probes, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Reference: Gallais, Patrick, Atmospheric Re-entry Vehicle Mechanics, Springer-Verlag, 2007.

Reference Notes:

Braun, Planetary Entry, Descent and Landing, Short Course Notes, March 2014.

Course Website:



Course Overview:

AE6355 is a graduate-level elective that provides an integrated overview of planetary entry, descent, and landing systems. The course content includes entry vehicle systems, entry flight mechanics and dynamics, hypersonic aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics and thermal protection systems, aerodynamic decelerators and landing systems, and case studies based on recent developments in robotic and human exploration. Chapters 1-5, 7, 9 and 11 of the Regan text will be assigned and material from the Short Course Notes will be referenced.

Four homework sets will be assigned. Each homework assignment will be due at the beginning of the lecture, three weeks from the date it is handed out. No late homework assignments will be accepted. Homework should be legible, professional and demonstrate all steps in the solution. Use only one side of the page and indicate page numbers and your name on each page. Clearly indicate your final answer by enclosing it in a box. Be sure to indicate units. Deductions will be made for improper homework formats. Homework assignments will require a modest degree of computer programming.

A group project involving many of the analyses discussed in this course will be assigned. The class will be divided into teams to work on this group project. Each team will develop a concept and document it in a report of no more than 20 pages and an oral presentation of 20 minutes duration. Potential project topics include: a small reentry system for the recovery of biological samples flown in space, a precision-guided Mars impactor, a Mars aerocapture system designed to place a 3U cubesat into orbit, and an EDL system to place a static payload on the Mars surface. More information on this project will be provided early in the semester.

There will be one in-class midterm and a comprehensive final exam. All tests employ a closed book, closed notes format. Class lectures will be videotaped and broadcast for distance learning students. The homework and test schedule for distance learning students not at the NIA is shifted by one week.

Course Materials:

Registered students can access all course materials via T-square.


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