Defense

August 6, 2012

Air Force has role in Mars Rover success

Tags:
by Philip Lorenz III
Arnold AFB, Tenn.

An Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle heat shield material sample model undergoes preproduction aerothermal testing in Arnold Engineering Development Center’s H2 test facility as part of a facility validation and calibration run. More testing is slated to occur in December.

As news broke of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory “Curiosity” rover’s successful landing on the “Red Planet” Aug. 6, Arnold Engineering Development Complex’s (AEDC) Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 Director Dan Marren was watching the live TV broadcast of the event.

“Last night, after eight months of high-speed flight, while you slept, NASA successfully landed the rover Curiosity on Mars,” Marren said. “What I find refreshing is that for our part, there is an interesting story.

“Much of the success of the “7 minutes of terror” – that most challenging part NASA refers to from re-entry to touchdown – is directly related to sub-systems AEDC helped develop and validate. A solid heat shield and a proper deceleration parachute were crucial to putting the rover down safely. What is even more rewarding to me is that our capabilities designed many years ago for the original space race and strategic systems were so useful today enabling discovery and the natural curiosity of the human race.”

Aerospace Testing Alliance Instrumentation Technician Doyle Jones performs a continuity check on the instrumentation inside the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle heat shield material candidate model prior to a test run in Arnold Engineering Development Center’s H2 test facility.

“Curiosity” is the most highly advanced, mobile robot with the heaviest overall payload ever sent to another planet to investigate Mars’ ability, both past and present, to sustain microbial life.

AEDC’s role in supporting the MSL program has included evaluating the aerothermal loading of the heat shield at the complex’s Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 facility in Silver Spring, Md., and assessing thermal protection system material candidates for the MSL’s heat shield at the complex’s central location in Tennessee. In addition, NASA and AEDC’s engineers tested the MSL’s full-sized parachute in the world’s largest wind tunnel at National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex in California.

In this image, two engineers are dwarfed by NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory’s parachute, which holds more air than a 3,000-square-foot house and is designed to survive loads in excess of 36,000 kilograms (80,000 pounds). The parachute, built by Pioneer Aerospace, South Windsor, Conn., has 80 suspension lines, measures more than 65 feet in length, and opens to a diameter of nearly 55 feet. It is the largest disk-gap-band parachute ever built and is shown here inflated in the test section with only about 12.5 feet of clearance to both the floor and ceiling of the world’s largest wind tunnel at National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex. The parachute is attached to a launch arm mounted on a swivel-base that allows the test item to pitch and yaw under simulated conditions of subsonic entry into the Martian atmosphere.

A 1/30-scale model of the aeroshell configuration for the Mars Science Laboratory underwent aerodynamic atmospheric descent testing at AEDC’s Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 Facility.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Courtesy photograph

AEDC and AFRL collaborate to make advances in hypersonic technology

Air Force photograph by Mike Smith As part of the U.S.-German cooperative program known as Hypersonic International Flight Experimentation, an integrated aerodynamic and aerothermal test and analysis of a hypersonic cruise vehi...
 
 

Minuteman III rocket motor aging surveillance test completed at AEDC

Arnold Engineering Development Complex personnel completed testing of a Minuteman III Stage II motor in the Complex’s J-6 Large Rocket Test Facility for aging surveillance of the 48-year-old defense program. “The Stage II motor is part of the Minuteman III Aging and Surveillance test program to obtain motor performance data that is used to identify...
 
 
navair-triton

MQ-4C Tritons to arrive at Pax River this fall

  MQ-4C Triton test air vehicles at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., will fly cross-country to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., this fall. The MQ-4C completed a test flight Aug. 19 with updated ...
 

 
global-hawk2

Air Combat Command loans Global Hawk to GVCTF

Air Force photograph by Jennifer Romo The 412th Test Wing’s Global Vigilance Combined Test Force received a Global Hawk Block 40 Aug. 6, on loan from Air Combat Command. Tail number 2035, from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., is jo...
 
 
C130b

C-130 Hercules still going strong at 60

Air Force photograph The C-130H Hercules dons the new eight-blade NP-2000 propellers. The 418th Flight Test Squadron replaced the C-130H Hercules’ four-bladed propellers with the eight-bladed propellers in 2008 in support...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard

Romania air base replaces Transit Center Manas

Army photograph by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard Oregon Army National Guard, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers from load onto a C-17 Globemaster III Aug. 13, 2013, bound for Afghanistan from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romani...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>