Connecting Curiosity's Heat Shield and Back Shell
At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the "back shell powered descent vehicle" configuration, containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, is being placed on the spacecraft's heat shield.
In preparation for launch later this year, the "back shell powered descent vehicle" configuration containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, has been placed on the spacecraft's heat shield.

The matchup was performed by technicians at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The heat shield and the spacecraft's back shell form an aeroshell that encapsulates and protects the rover from the intense heat it will experience during the final leg of the trip to Mars-the friction-filled descent through the Martian atmosphere.

The mission is scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during the period from Nov. 25 to Dec. 18. Arrival at Gale Crater on Mars is expected in August 2012.

After arrival, the Curiosity rover will investigate whether the landing region has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and favorable for preserving clues about whether life existed.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

More information about Curiosity is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

You can follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

  • At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the "back shell powered descent vehicle" configuration of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory is being rotated for final closeout actions.

    At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the "back shell powered descent vehicle" configuration of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory is being rotated for final closeout actions.

    At this time, the mission's rover, known as Curiosity, and its rocket-powered descent stage have already been inte... more

  • At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the "back shell powered descent vehicle" configuration, containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, is being rotated for final closeout actions.

    At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the "back shell powered descent vehicle" configuration, containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, is being rotated for final closeout actions. The flat, circular object in the foreground of the image is the spacecraft's heat shield.

    <... more
  • At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the &#34;back shell powered descent vehicle&#34; configuration, containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, is being placed on the spacecraft's heat shield.

    At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the "back shell powered descent vehicle" configuration, containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, is being placed on the spacecraft's heat shield.

    The heat shield and the spacecraft's back shell together form an encapsulating aero... more

  • At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, and the spacecraft's descent stage have been enclosed inside the spacecraft's aeroshell.

    At the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, and the spacecraft's descent stage have been enclosed inside the spacecraft's aeroshell.

    This image, taken Oct. 1, 2011, shows the aeroshell with its heat shield on top.

    The heat shield and the... more


2011-313

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

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