NASA is building a shield that could help humans get to Mars

Landing on Mars is not easy, especially if the vehicle is a rocket. In fact, the gravity of the red planet is much denser than that of the Earth. It is such a complex challenge that less than half of the 40 missions sent by NASA are successful. Few (and scary) numbers for anyone considering taking people there. However, everything indicates that astronomers have figured out how to perform the technique more successfully.

You can better understand the difference between landing on Earth and Mars Digital look Explains: When returning to Earth, the plane receives a “help” from the atmosphere here, as it becomes relatively thick and slow. On Mars, on the other hand, the atmosphere is thin and the air, by contrast, is dense. For example, the winds of Mars are 30,000 meters thick, like the winds of Earth, three times the size of Mount Everest.

“I call it the anti-Goldilocks environment,” said Jim Reuters, NASA’s associate administrator. “It’s thick enough to cause problems and not thin enough to help you,” he added.

March. Photo: Nazari_Nesherensky –

And what would be the possible solutions discovered by scientists?

In an effort to overcome this huge physics hurdle, NASA engineers have created an inflated heat shield that can hold the key to victory. Called the Inflatable Hypersonic Aerodynamic Decelerator, or HIAD, the hardware could help the agency land astronauts in the late 2030s and land massive payloads on the Red Planet.

Earlier this week, scientists and engineers at the space agency Langley Research Center in Virginia gathered to see the last swollen heat shield on Earth. The technology will enter orbit in November this year, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. This is the first test of technology that can send people to Mars.

The mission will test Bernard Kutter’s Low Earth Orbit Inflatable Descelator Flight Test – or simply LOFTID – by traveling around the Earth via a weather satellite, passing through the North Pole and the South. The HIAD will remain in place until the satellite is delivered, then will swell when the spacecraft returns to Earth.

Display of inflatable heat shield which will be launched in November. Photo: NASA

Ground display and technical composition

On Wednesday (15), the heat shield wrapped in metallic gray was tested by a NASA team. Shaped like a giant mushroom cap, the hardware has been transformed into a cavernous laboratory. The HIAD was 6 meters wide, with an extended walkway overhead for scientists and engineers to cross.

The system consists of a stack of inner tube-shaped rings connected together. NASA claims that the synthetic material used in the equipment is 15 times stronger than steel and capable of withstanding temperatures in excess of 1,500 degrees Celsius. The idea of ​​placing it as high as possible in the Martian atmosphere expands NASA’s landing options in the southern highlands of the Red Planet.

NASA is building a shield that can help people
Langley’s NASA researchers have shown the last time the Earth’s heat shield swelled. Photo: Elisha Sawyer / Mashable

For scientists, this solution is more realistic than a “football field-sized parachute pack” or “ten tons of extra rocket fuel”.

“With conventional technology you can land about 1.5 tons. It’s the equivalent of a well-equipped golf cart, “NASA’s Del Corso told Mashable. “With 20 to 40 tons, we are talking about a farmhouse, which is equipped with a car in the garage. That’s what you have to have.

The US $ 93 million mission is a NASA partnership with the United Launch Alliance, which will provide post-launch inspection and equipment recovery. If all goes well, the Hit Shield will reduce the speed of the LOFTID rocket from 25 times the speed of sound to 910 km / h.

“This is a huge leap forward in aerosol technology,” said Barb Egan, director of the company’s civilian space program. . .

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