Tech & Science NASA has a new, foldable heat shield, and it could be part of a manned Mars mission

12:50  14 september  2018
12:50  14 september  2018 Source:   bgr.com

NASA's Parker Solar Probe blasts off on epic journey to 'touch the Sun'

  NASA's Parker Solar Probe blasts off on epic journey to 'touch the Sun' NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force station on its historic mission to the Sun. Carried by a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, Parker lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 37. The launch had intially been scheduled for early Saturday, but last-minute technical glitches ate away at the launch window, prompting a 24-hour delay.The $1.5 billion mission will take humanity closer to the Sun than ever before. Parker will be the first spacecraft to fly through the Sun’s corona, the outermost part of the star’s atmosphere.

  NASA has a new, foldable heat shield, and it could be part of a manned Mars mission © Provided by BGR A manned mission to Mars is (very) slowly coming together for the folks at NASA. There’s a lot of incredibly specific planning that goes into a mission to another planet, and Mars will give scientists and engineers a long list of challenges to overcome, but there’s one thing that no planet-hopping expedition could do without: a heat shield.

Mankind doesn’t have a whole lot of interest in visiting planets without atmospheres — at least not yet — and when a spacecraft makes its descent to a new planet’s surface they’ll have to deal with the intense friction between the ship and the various gasses that surround the planet. With all that in mind, NASA debuted an entirely new kind of heat shield this week, and it might be a perfect fit for future missions to Mars and beyond.

'Touch the sun': NASA spacecraft hurtles toward our star

  'Touch the sun': NASA spacecraft hurtles toward our star Embarking on a mission that scientists have been dreaming of since the Sputnik era, a NASA spacecraft hurtled Sunday toward the sun on a quest to unlock some of its mysteries by getting closer than any object sent before. If all goes well, the Parker Solar Probe will fly straight through the wispy edges of the sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, in November. In the years ahead, it will gradually get within 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers) of the surface, its instruments protected from the extreme heat and radiation by a revolutionary new carbon heat shield and other high-tech wizardry.

As Reuters reports, the new heat shield is called ADEPT, which stands for Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology. That’s just a very fancy way of saying that it’s a heat shield that physically unfolds when needed. The shield, which would be situated on the front of a spacecraft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere, opens like a flower and blocks the intense heat from damaging or destroying the ship itself.

What makes this so special is that, up until now, heat shields were static components of a spacecraft. The entire rest of the spacecraft typically has to be built with the heat shield in mind, and that puts some serious limits on how a manned ship could be designed. With a deployable shield, the ship can essentially be whatever its designers want it to be, and the shield can be deployed to do its job whenever it’s needed.

NASA tested the new heat shield this week, launching its test rocket from New Mexico and monitoring the deployment of the shield as the rocket made reentry. The group hasn’t offered much in the way of details as to how the test went, but that information will be released once NASA has a chance to examine the hardware that made it back to Earth.

Hope dwindles as NASA’s Opportunity rover refuses to contact Earth .
Time flies when you're trying to message a rover that just won't wake up. The rover, which is over a decade and a half old at this point, was only supposed to last a few months on the Martian surface. It’s since spent over 14 years on the Martian surface, and the original mission timeline has been extended again and again as the rover proved it was up for additional work, but now it’s looking more and more like it might be the end of the road.

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