Detailed Image Of Curiosity’s Heat Shield Released
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
NASA has released a high-resolution image of Curiosity’s heat shield after it was jettisoned from the Mars Science Laboratory, and headed for a Martian impact.
The latest color full-resolution image was taken by the Mars Descent Imager instrument known as MARDI.
The image shows the 15-foot diameter heat shield when it was just about 50 feet from Curiosity in free fall.
“This image shows the inside surface of the heat shield, with its protective multi-layered insulation,” NASA said in an image caption. “The bright patches are calibration targets for MARDI. Also seen in this image is the Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrument (MEDLI) hardware attached to the inside surface.”
The space agency said it is the 36th MARDI image obtained so far, and it was taken at about three seconds after the heat shield separation, and two-and-a-half minutes before touchdown.
The image not only shows a detailed picture of the heat shield, but also the Martian surface.
During the landing process, a combination of the heat shield, a parachute and the Sky Crane helped slow down the rover’s descent from 13,000 mph to 0 mph in a matter of seven minutes. NASA called the event “seven minutes of terror.”