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Title: Mars Exploration Rover Heatshield Observation Campaign
Authors: Szalai, Christine E.
Thoma, Benjamin L.
Lee, Wayne J.
Maki, Justin N.
Willcockson, William H.
Venkatapathy, Ethiraj
White, Todd R.
Keywords: Mars Exploration Rover
Thermal Protection System (TPS)
Issue Date: 25-Jul-2011
Publisher: Pasadena, CA : Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2011.
Citation: 42nd AIAA Thermophysics Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 27-30, 2011
Abstract: For the first time ever, engineers were able to observe a heatshield on the surface of another planet after a successful entry through the atmosphere. A three-week heatshield observation campaign was conducted in December 2004 after the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity exited “Endurance Crater.” By utilizing the rover’s scientific instruments, data was collected to make a qualitative assessment of the performance of the heatshield. This data was gathered to gain a better understanding of how the heatshield performed during entry through the Martian atmosphere. In addition, this unprecedented look at the heatshield offered engineers the opportunity to assess if any unexpected anomalies occurred. Once a survey of the heatshield debris was completed, multiple targets of interest were chosen for the collection of imaging data. This data was then used to assess the char depth of the thermal protection material, which compared well with design and post-flight computational predictions. Extensive imaging data was collected and showed the main seal in pristine conditions, and no observable indications of structure overheating. Additionally, unexpected vehicle dynamics during the atmospheric entry were explained by the observation of thermal blanket remnants attached to the heatshield.
Appears in Collections:JPL TRS 1992+

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