NASA Develops New Heat Shield Technology for Spacecrafts
Thursday, March 10, 2016
American space agency NASA has developed a new donut–shaped inflatable heat shield technology that works like a parachute and enables a spacecraft to safely land while descending through the high temperature atmosphere of a planet like Mars. The technology developed by engineers from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, US would be used for slowing down a spacecraft while entering the atmosphere of the other planets.
For that to happen, the inflatable heat shield technology, dubbed as Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD), would have to be tightly packed in the confines of a rocket. Engineers have already stimulated what would happen before a space mission by testing a prototype of the same by experimenting with a test article comprising a diameter of about 9 feet. HIAD uses the drag of a planet’s atmosphere to slow down space vehicles as it descends towards the surface.
Slowing down the space vehicle protects it from the intense heat of the atmospheric entry and allows it to land more softly. HIAD would facilitate the delivery of heavy cargo, scientific instruments and people to the other planets.