NASA is already thinking about the arrival of man on Mars and for this it has developed a protective heat shield that will make it much easier to enter the planet. But before being deployed on the Red Planet, the heat shield will be tested on Earth and is about to begin its work.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in collaboration with the United Launch Alliance, has developed a heat shield called the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD). The work of the thermal shield is similar to the function that the terrestrial atmosphere has when entering bodies from outer space, which experience a deceleration thanks to our atmosphere.
natural deceleration system
When an object enters the Earth’s atmosphere, aerodynamic forces interact. In this sense, aerodynamic resistance helps to reduce the speed at which the object enters because the kinetic energy is transformed into heat. On Earth there is not so much problem in the re-entry of spacecraft, since our atmosphere protects us, however, talking about Mars is another story.
The atmosphere of Mars is almost nonexistent, because its magnetic field is very weak and does not allow it to be maintained in a robust way. This is why all space agencies have been in trouble getting spacecraft to the Red Planet. You may have heard of rovers parachuting into Mars, and this is precisely because there is no more viable landing system yet.
artificial heat shield
HIAD consists of a set of super-strong balloons that have been developed over years to withstand the extreme heat generated when an object enters the atmosphere. When the heat shield is put into action, it takes on the shape of a disc-shaped structure reminiscent of the classic imaginative shape of UFOs.
NASA explains that the HIAD design “is an inflatable structure that maintains its shape against drag forces and a flexible thermal protection system that resists the heat of re-entry. The inflatable structure is built with a stack of pressurized concentric rings, or tori, that come together to form an exceptionally strong cone-shaped structure.
How to watch the heat shield test live
The flight test to launch the heat shield is called LOFTID (Low Earth Orbit Inflatable Decelerator Flight Test) and is about to be launched into space.
NASA has said the test will fly into space aboard a ULA Atlas V 401 rocket, which will launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on November 1, 2022. Once it reaches low-Earth orbit, it will be put on re-entry to Earth to test the artificial thermal system.
You can watch NASA’s heat shield test flight on November 1 at 2:45 EDT via the live stream in the box below.