current systems. Relevant phenomena are strongly gravity-dependent and are highly enabling to and uniquely enabled by NASA missions. A wide variety of fundamental and applied fluid phenomena should be investigated, whenever possible employing multiuser facilities that develop mechanistic models for induced and/or spontaneous multiphase flows (with or without phase change). Research should include targeted experiments that expand core knowledge, improve designer options and confidence, and increase TRLs over the next 10 years and beyond.

Research in this area should support the development of the critical technologies described in Chapter 10 that are listed in the section above titled “Reduced-Gravity Multiphase Flows, Cryogenics, and Heat-Transfer: Database and Modeling.”

Dynamic Granular Material Behavior and Granular Subsurface Geotechnics

Improved predictive capabilities related to the behavior of lunar and martian soils on the surface and at depth would enable advanced human and robotic planetary surface exploration and habitation. Surface operations such as wheel/track-soil interaction and cratering would benefit from the development of particle-scale and multiscale models and simulations of key dynamic interactions with soil, including the crushing and compaction of agglutinates. ISRU mining, the design of structural foundations and anchors, and berm/trench stability analysis would benefit from improved soil-specific computational models and methods for sampling planetary soil at depth. Model development can begin in the first part of the decade, but the refinement of site-specific models will likely require ground-based and ISS testing of actual lunar soils.

Research in this area should support the development of the following critical technologies described in Chapter 10 (see Tables 10.3 and 10.4): regolith- and dust-tolerant systems for planetary surface construction and teleoperated and autonomous construction.

Dust Mitigation

The development of fundamentals-based strategies and methods for dust mitigation would enable advanced human and robotic exploration of planetary bodies. Areas of interest include experimental methods, the understanding of the fundamental physics of dust accumulation and electrostatic interactions, and methods for modeling dust accumulation. Issues related to dust seals, environmental hazards, solar panel obscuration, and sensor fouling should also be addressed. Much of this work can be done with ISS and ground-based studies early in this decade.

Research in this area should support the development of the following critical technologies described in Chapter 10 (see Tables 10.3 and 10.4): dust mitigation technologies and systems for EVA and life support systems, for planetary surface construction, and for lunar water and oxygen extraction systems.

Complex Fluid Physics

Unique experiments for understanding complex fluid physics in microgravity are enabled by the ISS. Such experiments can unravel the behavior of complex fluids, including granular materials, colloids, foams, nanoslurries, biofluids, plasmas, non-Newtonian fluids, critical-point fluids, and liquid crystals, without the bias of gravity. The ISS microgravity environment further enables unique capabilities for fundamental experiments of complex flow systems that can explore fundamental fluid physics and geological systems with small-scale models. These studies could be accomplished with a combination of ground-based and ISS efforts in the next 10 years and beyond.


Combustion has evolved into an extremely multidisciplinary subject, as diverse as fire safety and astrophysics. In the most fundamental sense, combustion deals with the process and effects of energy released into a surrounding medium and the response and feedback of that background. Usually, the focus of combustion is on a reaction front, where reactants are converted into combustion products. Such fronts exhibit flames, deflagrations, detonations, and myriad intermediate states. Sometimes what seems to be the most esoteric combustion question in, for example, details of a flame structure or dynamics becomes a key issue for an application that is of critical importance to safety or a developing technology.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement