The aim of this study is the understanding of the phenomena taking place during atmospheric re-entry phase. This paper is dedicated to the development of an ablation test mean, allowing the simulation of the thermal and chemical re-entry conditions.
We first present the completely automatized process, consisting in a DC plasma torch with its instrumentation: monochromatic pyrometers, real time image capture and analysis, follow-up of the sample, analysis of the emitted species with optical emission spectrometry.
Then the experimental conditions are defined, with particulary the air injection problem and characterization of the plasma jet.
The results of the tests lead on the C + TaC and C + NbC materials are finally presented. On-line observations and materials characterizations permit to bring out species and phenomena, especially decarburization, in good agreement with the thermodynamic study of the chosen system.