National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Multimedia
Heat Shield, Meet Mars

This sequence of images shows the heat shield from NASA's Mars Science Laboratory hitting the ground on Mars and raising a cloud of dust. The images were taken by the Mars Descent Imager on the mission's Curiosity rover while the rover was still suspended on a parachute, after the spacecraft had jettisoned the heat shield.

A dark spot, the shadow of the heat shield, enters the scene from lower left, moving toward the center. The bright heat shield itself is also apparent just before the shadow and hardware meet in the impact on the surface. The area of ground visible in the images is about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) across. The frames shown here are cropped portions of full-frame images from the Mars Descent Imager.

The sequence includes 25 frames, repeated in five run-throughs for this presentation. The action is full speed in the first, fourth and fifth run-throughs. It is one-half and one-eighth speeds in the second and third run-throughs.

At the time the heat shield hit the ground, the spacecraft photographing it was nearly two miles (about 3,000 meters) above the ground and 68 seconds away from its own touchdown.

Video Downloads


Video Archives

Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012