NASA testing new technology to help spacecraft land safely on Mars

To slow down a spacecraft as it descends and lands on a distant planet on deeper space mission including Mars, NASA engineers are testing inflatable heat shield technology at the US space agency's Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia.

By: | March 9, 2016 1:35 PM
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To slow down a spacecraft as it descends and lands on a distant planet on deeper space mission including Mars, NASA engineers are testing inflatable heat shield technology at the US space agency’s Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia.

Engineers recently put the technology to the test by packing a nine-foot diameter donut-shaped test article – also known as a torus – to simulate what would happen before a space mission.

Called the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD), it works like a parachute, using the drag of a planet’s atmosphere to slow the space vehicle as it descends toward the surface.

Slowing the spacecraft protects it from the intense heat of atmospheric entry and allows it to land more softly.

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First Published on March 9, 2016 1:06 pm
Tags: Nasa
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