December 2, 2023

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NASA: What the test showed for the shield that will land us on Mars

NASA: What the test showed for the shield that will land us on Mars

What are the differences in the atmosphere of the red planet compared to Earth – the shield will be recovered from the Pacific Ocean in two days

NASA has successfully completed the first launch of the inflatable heat shield that will land humanity on Mars.

A low Earth orbit flight test of an inflatable decelerator, or LOFTID, was launched by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The mission was to test the technology needed to land humans on Mars for manned or larger robotic missions to Venus or Saturn’s moon Titan.

LOFTID reached low Earth orbit, which is less than 1,200 miles from Earth’s surface, at 4:49 a.m. EST at supersonic speeds. It swelled and began its descent back to Earth at 6:34 AM. EST.

The mission was originally set for November 1, but was delayed due to a faulty missile battery. Then the battery was replaced and tested again for the new release date.

Kahana 2 is expected to recover the shield within two days from the Pacific Ocean east of Hawaii, where it landed gently thanks to its parachutes.

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her hope NASA The task is to be able to use the heat shield as a brake to slow the spacecraft as it enters the Martian atmosphere. When a rocket enters the atmosphere, aerodynamic forces help slow it down before landing.

However, the challenge is greater for a spacecraft landing on Mars because the atmosphere is much less dense than that of Earth. the atmosphere in Mars It’s thick enough to withstand some drag to slow it down, but too thin to slow down the spacecraft as soon as possible. So additional help is needed. LOFTID will create more drag in the upper atmosphere to help the rocket decelerate faster and prevent overheating.

The sensors on the heat shield will record its experience as it descends, and the cameras are set to capture video of the mission, said Joe Del Corso, project manager. air time at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

LOFTID was launched along with another separate mission – the Joint Polar Satellite-2 System, or JPSS-2, a polar satellite for improved weather forecasting. The satellite is designed to collect data to help predict extreme weather events.