Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

John Loth

Committee Co-Chair

Juan R. Cruz

Committee Member

Shrikanth Gururajan

Committee Member

Mark Schoenenberger


An analysis was conducted to identify the parameters of an aerodynamic model for a Venus lander based on experimental free-flight data. The experimental free-flight data were collected in the NASA Langley 20-ft Vertical Spin Tunnel with a 25-percent Froude-scaled model. The experimental data were classified based on the wind tunnel run type: runs where the lander model was unperturbed over the course of the run, and runs were the model was perturbed (principally in pitch, yaw, and roll) by the wind tunnel operator. The perturbations allow for data to be obtained at higher wind angles and rotation rates than those available from the unperturbed data. The model properties and equations of motion were used to determine experimental values for the aerodynamic coefficients. An aerodynamic model was selected using a priori knowledge of axisymmetric blunt entry vehicles. The least squares method was used to estimate the aerodynamic parameters. Three sets of results were obtained from the following data sets: perturbed, unperturbed, and the combination of both. The combined data set was selected for the final set of aerodynamic parameters based on the quality of the results. The identified aerodynamic parameters are consistent with that of the static wind tunnel data. Reconstructions, of experimental data not used in the parameter identification analyses, achieved similar residuals as those with data used to identify the parameters. Simulations of the experimental data, using the identified parameters, indicate that the aerodynamic model used is incapable of replicating the limit cycle oscillations with stochastic peak amplitudes observed during the test.