Aerospace technology developer Lockheed Martin has delivered Mars 2020 rover’s aeroshell to Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, US.

The Lockheed Martin-built capsule-shaped aeroshell is designed to safeguard the rover from intense external heat.

Featuring a backshell and heat shield, the aeroshell will protect the rover in transit from Earth to Mars and entry through the Martian atmosphere to the planet’ surface.

The two parts were produced at Lockheed Martin’s Waterton facility in Littleton, Colorado, US.

The company used tiled Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator (PICA) thermal protection system to help withstand temperatures of up to 3,800°F.

Lockheed Martin Space Mars 2020 aeroshell programme manager Neil Tice said: “Even though we have the experience of building the nearly identical aeroshell for the Curiosity Rover, the almost 15ft diameter composite structure was just as big a challenge to build and test ten years later.

“We’ve built every Mars aeroshell entry system for Nasa of its 40 years of exploring Mars, so we pulled from that experience to build this important system.”

How much of an impact will the COVID-19 outbreak have on the revenue of aerospace companies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

The Mars 2020 rover is undergoing mission testing at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. The mission is scheduled for launch in July 2020 and land at the Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021.

The MSL Entry Descent and Landing Instrument (MEDLI2) was recently installed by Lockheed Martin onto the heat shield and backshell.

MEDLI2 will gather information, including temperature and pressure, during the spacecraft’s descent in the Martian atmosphere.

With a 4.5m diameter, the aeroshell/heat shield is one of the largest ever built for planetary missions.