Exploring the solar system? You may need to pack an umbrella

Gearing up for its first flight test, NASA's Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology, or ADEPT, is no ordinary umbrella. ADEPT is a foldable device that opens to make a round, rigid heat shield, called an aeroshell. ...

NASA Mars-bound rover begins research in space

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's car-sized Curiosity rover has begun monitoring space radiation during its 8-month trip from Earth to Mars. The research will aid in planning for future human missions to the Red Planet.

Mars Science Laboratory meets its match in Florida

(PhysOrg.com) -- In preparation for launch later this year, the "back shell powered descent vehicle" configuration containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, has been placed on the spacecraft's heat shield. ...

Mars mission components delivered to Florida

(PhysOrg.com) -- An Air Force C-17 transport plane delivered the heat shield, back shell and cruise stage of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on May 12, 2011.

Rocket to Launch Inflatable Re-entry Capsule

(PhysOrg.com) -- Inflatable aircraft are not a new idea. Hot air balloons have been around for more than two centuries and blimps are a common sight over many sports stadiums. But it's hard to imagine an inflatable spacecraft.

Heat Shield Readied for Next Mars Rover

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, has finished building and testing the heat shield for protecting the Curiosity rover of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory project. This heat shield is even larger than the ones used for ...

Aeroshell

An aeroshell is a rigid heat-shielded shell that protects a vehicle from pressure and heat created by drag during atmospheric entry (see blunt body theory), slows it down during entry, and may protect it from debris during spaceflight. The back shell carries the load being delivered, along with important components such as a parachute, rocket engines, and monitoring electronics like an inertial measurement unit that monitors the orientation of the shell during parachute-slowed descent.

Aeroshells are a key component of interplanetary space missions. They were used in the Apollo program to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s, the 1975 Viking program to Mars, the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission, the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover missions, the 2007 Mars Phoenix mission, and are scheduled for use in the Mars Science Laboratory mission in late 2011.

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