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NASA Mars Mission Faces Setback After Heat Shield Cracks Under Pressure
npr ^ | April 27, 201810:56 AM ET

Posted on 04/27/2018 2:21:15 PM PDT by BenLurkin

A critical part of NASA's next $2 billion rover mission to Mars broke during testing earlier this month.

The Mars 2020 mission's heat shield was undergoing stress-testing when it developed a crack that appeared around its entire circumference. The shield is designed to protect the rover as it enters the Martian atmosphere.

"The test was designed to subject the heat shield to forces up to 20 percent greater than those expected during entry into the Martian atmosphere," NASA said in a statement. The crack was "unexpected" according to the release, and engineers will have to build a new shield for the mission.

Mars 2020 is intended to send a six-wheeled rover that will look for potential signs for life on the red planet. And it will demonstrate the initial steps needed for a future Mars mission that will return samples to Earth.

The heat shield is a curved structure made mostly out of a lightweight material known as phenolic-impregnated carbon ablator. PICA is as light as balsa wood but can withstand temperatures of nearly 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as the spacecraft comes screaming into the Martian atmosphere.

The same material is used on SpaceX's Dragon Capsule, to resupply the International Space Station.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are working with Lockheed Martin, the contractor that built the heat shield, to figure out why the shield cracked. The findings could lead to changes in the design of the replacement shield that NASA has asked Lockheed to build.

The broken shield is the second setback for a major NASA mission in recent months. In March, NASA announced that its next major space telescope, known as the James Webb Space Telescope, will be delayed because of a problem with a foil shield designed to protect it from the sun's rays. That pushed the launch back by roughly a year and means the telescope will exceed its $8 billion price tag.

A NASA spokesman says the agency doesn't have an estimate of how much it will cost to replace the Mars mission's heat shield. The agency says it is confident, however, that the replacement will be ready in time for Mars 2020's intended launch date in July of that year.


TOPICS: Science
KEYWORDS: nasa

1 posted on 04/27/2018 2:21:15 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: BenLurkin

Like a high-ranking FBI official subjected to questioning and confronted with evidence of their own treason ... it just cracked.


2 posted on 04/27/2018 2:22:38 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: BenLurkin

A potentially very expensive flaw, but it’s much better that we find this out now, not when someone is in Outer Space.


3 posted on 04/27/2018 2:27:35 PM PDT by lee martell
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To: BenLurkin

Cracks under pressure. So it was the Hillary Clinton model?


4 posted on 04/27/2018 2:27:44 PM PDT by max americana (Fired libtard employees 9 consecutive times at every election since 08'. I hope all liberals die.)
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To: BenLurkin

First the Universe is cracking and now Nasa’s heat shield.

Where will the cracking end?


5 posted on 04/27/2018 2:30:12 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: BenLurkin

If anyone saw Capricorn one we could have told you this was going to happen.


6 posted on 04/27/2018 2:33:09 PM PDT by longfellow (Bill Maher, the 21st hijacker.)
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To: DannyTN

7 posted on 04/27/2018 2:34:29 PM PDT by BenLurkin (The above is not a statement of fact. It is either satire or opinion. Or both.)
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To: BenLurkin
The crack was "unexpected"...

"Unexpected?? You don't say!!"


8 posted on 04/27/2018 2:38:30 PM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: BenLurkin

Better here than there.


9 posted on 04/27/2018 2:41:31 PM PDT by miliantnutcase
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To: BenLurkin
The crack was "unexpected" according to the release...

Ya think?

10 posted on 04/27/2018 2:48:25 PM PDT by OldMissileer (Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, PK. Winners of the Cold War)
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To: BenLurkin

That’s why you do the testing.


11 posted on 04/27/2018 3:14:38 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: BenLurkin
What could cause that type of pressure?


12 posted on 04/27/2018 3:32:50 PM PDT by Cvengr ( Adversity in life & death is inevitable; Stress is optional through faith in Christ.)
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To: BenLurkin

If NASA would only do more muslm outreach, things like this would never happen.


13 posted on 04/27/2018 3:32:56 PM PDT by Paulie (America without Christ is like a Chemistry book without the periodic table.)
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To: BenLurkin

“Seems you multiplied where you should have divided.” —No Highway in The Sky (1951)


14 posted on 04/27/2018 3:59:21 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: BenLurkin

Waterboarding kind of pressure?


15 posted on 04/27/2018 4:26:01 PM PDT by GingisK
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To: BenLurkin

I haven’t paid much attention to NASA since the beginning of its political correctness missions with the luxury Shuttle torches. The private sector has proven to be more capable with its endeavor to send the political class on its last vacation to Mars (see vacations to Venus, Cyril Kornbluth, “The Marching Morons”).

;-)


16 posted on 04/27/2018 4:33:28 PM PDT by familyop ("Welcome to Costco. I love you." - -Costco greeter in the movie, "Idiocracy")
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To: BenLurkin

A critical part of NASA’s next $2 billion rover mission to Mars broke during testing earlier this month.

...

That’s a lot of money to repeat something that’s already been done.


17 posted on 04/27/2018 4:36:34 PM PDT by Moonman62 (Give a man a fish and he'll be a Democrat. Teach a man to fish and he'll be a responsible citizen.)
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To: BenLurkin

Instead of using ablative material, why can’t they make it out of shuttle tile materials?


18 posted on 04/27/2018 8:57:51 PM PDT by hattend
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To: BenLurkin

Wonder if it was due to “extreme” engineering where they do everything they can to conserve weight and end up “missing it by that much”....


19 posted on 04/28/2018 3:54:54 AM PDT by trebb (I stopped picking on the mentally ill hypocrites who pose as conservatives...mostly ;-})
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