NASA checked off another milestone on the way to Mars. Mars spacecraft will require larger heat shields to protect against the extreme heat of entering the Mars atmosphere and decelerating at a safe altitude. Mars has a very thin atmosphere.
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Today's rockets have limited space to for a spacecraft and its heat shields. NASA's engineers at Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley have invented a solution to overcome this problem.
The Adaptive Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT) is the solution. ADEPT is a mechanically-deployable heat shield concept using carbon fabric: a flexible heat shield that expands like an umbrella. ADEPT heat shield solution has now successfully completed heating simulation testing under Martian atmosphere conditions says NASA.
The photograph above shows one of these tests. A flow of extremely heated air is exiting the 21-inch diameter nozzle from the left, causing a bow shock to form in front of the ADEPTtest article, which is attached to a water-cooled support arm.
Surface temperatures on the test article reached 3,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The bluish-hue streaks, streaming away from the test article are due to the decomposition of the resin-infused protective layers that prevent degradation of the stitched fabric joints.
NASA plans to undertake a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. This goal was set back in 2010. NASA also plans to send humans to an astroid in 2020. Hollywood did already all of these missions. Now it is NASA's turn.
NASA recently made headlines with Mars after scientists discovered flowing salt water. Many hope that there will be alien life floating around in that fluid.
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