Umbrella-Like Heat Shield For Future Manned Mission to Mars

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Mars Mission Preparedness

Moving a step closer to make human exploration of Mars a reality, scientists at NASA developed a prototype umbrella-like heat shield that could protect Mars exploration vehicles from extreme heat while entering Mars’ atmosphere.

For this purpose, scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Centre developed Adaptive Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT) which is a flexible heat shield that opens like an umbrella. The thinner atmosphere on Mars makes it difficult for space capsules to land on its surface. Therefore exploration vehicles need extra technologies.

ADEPT is made of carbon resin-coated woven fabric and a rigid support structure that is light as compared to traditional ablative heat shield. Scientists in order to check the viability of ADEPT tested it by blowing a blast of hot air from a 21 inches diameter nozzle. Following this, the temperature of the shield reached 1700° C but its cascading effects were neutralised as it was attached to a water-cooled support arm. NASA also plans to have an operational ADEPT for Venus by 2017 which has a very thick atmosphere.

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