Alejandro Freixes
Nov 28, 2011

VIDEO: Lockheed protects Mars rover with biggest aeroshell ever built

NASA launched its latest Mars rover, Curiosity, this past weekend. Built by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the rover is outfitted with a blunt-nosed cone aeroshell that can resist the intense heat and friction generated through entering and landing in the Martian atmosphere. The aeroshell was designed and built by Lockheed Martin, the same company that has provided aeroshells for NASA for every Mars mission dating back to the Viking landers. Compared to its previous aeroshells, the one made for Curiosity is the largest and most difficult one built to date according to Rich Hund, MSL aeroshell program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. The technology utilizes tiles of phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA)  that can resist the up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures endured by the spacecraft during descent.