The future crewed mission to Mars is the next big dreams NASA and the private space companies share. However, a manned flight to the Red Planet implies many risks, the most significant one being the exposure of the astronauts to intense cosmic radiations. Besides, another challenge would be the extreme heat a spaceship would experience when descending towards Mars, caused by the friction between the ship’s hull and the gases in the planet’s atmosphere. Now, NASA’s new foldable heat shield might be crucial.
This new NASA’s foldable heat shield, dubbed as ADEPT (Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology), it’s just a regular heat shield (as any other modern one installed on spaceships) which physically folds away whenever needed. As it is placed over the nose of a landing module, this foldable heat shield opens up like a blooming flower when the space shuttle is entering into a planet’s atmosphere.
Its purpose is to protect the spaceship against breaking apart due to the intense heat produced by the friction between the gases in a planet’s atmosphere and the shuttle itself.
NASA’s new foldable heat shield could assist in the future crewed mission to Mars
Even though it acts like a regular heat shield, this new NASA innovation is unique in the world as it is the first foldable heat shield ever developed. However, it cannot be installed on every spacecraft that already exists out there as, according to NASA, a space shuttle has to be designed with the new shield technology in mind, but that raises severe limits to how a spaceship for manned missions would be built to match with this latest technology.
However, there is an advantage. Namely, the manufacturers can build a space shuttle for whatever purpose in their mind as long as it is designed for the NASA’s new foldable heat shield which can be deployed whenever it is needed.
NASA tested the new foldable heat shield earlier this week and, even though the US space agency did not offer many details on that, we could presume that it was successful. Nonetheless, the new technology would be helpful for the future manned mission to Mars.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.