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  • The saucer-like Mars Science Laboratory, which landed the Curiosity rover on MARS, featured the largest heat shield (pictured here)—at 14 feet 9 inches in diameter—to enter a planet’s atmosphere. NASA is now engaging in R&D for even larger heat shields made of flexible, foldable material that can open up like an umbrella to protect spacecraft during atmospheric entry.
    NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin
    The saucer-like Mars Science Laboratory, which landed the Curiosity rover on MARS, featured the largest heat shield (pictured here)—at 14 feet 9 inches in diameter—to enter a planet’s atmosphere. NASA is now engaging in R&D for even larger heat shields made of flexible, foldable material that can open up like an umbrella to protect spacecraft during atmospheric entry.
  • A small model of NASA’s ADEPT heat shield, on display at NASA Ames Research Center.
    Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab
    A small model of NASA’s ADEPT heat shield, on display at NASA Ames Research Center.
  • This image, generated from X-ray micro-tomography scans at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, shows the 3-D microscale structure of a carbon-fiber felt material.
    Tim Sandstrom/NASA Ames
    This image, generated from X-ray micro-tomography scans at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, shows the 3-D microscale structure of a carbon-fiber felt material.




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