Use of Computational Fluid Dynamics for the Design and Optimization of Deceleration Devices

Faculty-mentored Undergraduate and Graduate Project

Investigators: Maria-Isabel Carnasciali, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Joe Andrejczyk (M.S.M.E.), Jane Schwab (B.S.M.E. 2012), Jeff Young (B.S.M.E. 2013), and Apolonio Montejano (B.S.M.E. 2013)

Sponsors: Pioneer Aerospace (
CT Space Grant Consortium ( )

Project Description: Vehicles landing on Mars, vehicles returning to Earth, and drop shipments for soldiers in the field must land without crashing to prevent the smash-up of equipment and contents. Parachutes are one of the deceleration devices used to accomplish this. This project’s goal is to contribute to the design and optimization of deceleration devices to produce landings soft enough to keep equipment and contents intact.

Pioneer Aerospace specifically sought out University of New Haven faculty and students. The University of New Haven designed and ran computational models, comparing the results to existing experimental data based on varying altitudes and speeds. When the comparison of results validated the model, the model was then set to run at altitudes and speeds for which there is no existing data. Pioneer Aerospace will use those results to make design decisions that take into account how a vehicle or object may behave at these altitudes and speeds.

As part of the project, students modeled vehicles to understand how the flow of air past the vehicle affects the deceleration device. Models of simplified geometries — i.e., flow over cylinders or spheres — were conducted and extrapolated to more complicated models, such as an actual spacecraft or a complex parachute.

This project is on-going and students interested should contact Dr. Carnasciali to find out about current opportunities.


J. Young, M. Carnasciali, and M. Kandis: “Flow in the Near Wake of Hemispherical Parachute Shapes.” American Physical Society, November 2012.

J. Young, and M. Carnasciali: “Investigation of Parachute Vortex Shedding Using CFD.” Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, University of New Haven, September 2012.

J. Schwab, J. Andrejczyk, M. Carnasciali, and M. Kandis: “Stability Analysis of a Cylindrical Mortar Cover Ejected at Various Mach Numbers and Angles of Attack.” American Physical Society, November 2011.

J. Schwab, and M. Carnasciali: “Validation of CFD Simulation: Flow Over a Cylinder,” Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, University of New Haven, September 2011.