This is the beta version 1.2a of the AtmosModeler
Simulator program, and you are invited to participate in the
beta testing. If you find errors in the program or would like to
suggest improvements, please send an e-mail to
Due to IT
security concerns, many users are currently experiencing problems running NASA Glenn
educational applets. There are
security settings that you can adjust that may correct
This is an interactive program in which you can investigate
changes in the atmosphere and its effects on aerodynamic variables.
It uses mathematical models of the
standard atmosphere of the
You can find the equations
for the standard Earth atmosphere at this web site in both
English units and metric
units. Similar information is available on the Martian
Based on your input velocity, the program also calculates the
dynamic pressure, and
on your rocket. The stagnation temperature is the temperature of the
airflow at a stagnation point, such as the leading edge of the nose cone.
The pressure, temperature,
and density of the atmosphere constantly
change. At any one time there are great variations in the properties
of the atmosphere, depending on location around the planet and height
above the surface of the planet. The mathematical models used in this
simulator show an average variation of properties of the
atmosphere at various heights, but not at various locations. The
simulator will not predict the temperature or pressure at any single
location at any time. But it will help us understand the relations
among the values of a given variable at different heights. The
simulator can also demonstrate the relative magnitude of the
variables on the Earth and Mars.
The simulator is divided into three main sections:
On the left is the graphic showing the altitude of interest and
the velocity of your rocket. You can set the
altitude by clicking on the rocket image, holding the mouse
button down, and moving the rocket to a new location. The altitude roughly
corresponds to the base of the rocket image. The velocity is set by the
slider at the left. Click on the yellow bar and slide it to your
At the upper right are the input selection buttons and text fields. You can choose
to look at rockets on Earth or Mars, and you can display the
input and output in either English or metric units. You can also input desired
values of altitude and velocity using the white input boxes. Simply backspace
over the current value, enter a new value, then hit Enter to send the
value to the program.
The lower right portion of the simulator provides output
information. You can display
either the temperature, pressure, density,
speed of sound, dynamic pressure, force ratio,
Mach number, or total temperature on your rocket in the
output box. Output gauges also display the atmospheric temperature and
pressure. The speed of sound depends on
the type of gas in the atmosphere (nitrogen and oxygen for the
Earth and carbon dioxide for Mars) and on the square root of the
temperature of the gas.
The dynamic pressure
depends on the gas density and the square of the velocity and is an
important design constraint on full scale rockets.
You can make a comparison of the
aerodynamic force generated on a rocket at two
The force ratio displayed here compares the aerodynamic force
generated by a given rocket design, at the specified velocity, at the
selected altitude (and planet) to the force generated by the same
rocket, at the same velocity, at sea level on the Earth.
You can compare the Mach number
of a rocket at two altitudes or on different planets.
The Mach number is computed at the specified altitude and velocity.
Since the speed of sound depends on the temperature and
the gas, you will note some important differences in Mach number.
As the Mach number gets closer to (or exceeds) one,
compressibility effects, like shock waves and wave drag, become
more important to the rocket. Finally, the program determines the
total temperature, which occurs on the
nose of your rocket. The total temperature depends on the local, atmospheric,
static temperature and on the velocity of the rocket.
You can download your own copy of this program to run off-line by
clicking on the yellow button: