National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Multimedia
Curiosity Bids Goodbye to Heat Shield

This video of thumbnail images from the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) on NASA's Curiosity rover shows the heat shield dropping away from the rover on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). It covers the first 25 seconds of MARDI observations as Curiosity descends toward the surface of Mars, starting about two and one-half minutes before touchdown.

The video starts in darkness because there is no illumination inside the aeroshell. It starts about six seconds before heat shield separation (sometimes called heat shield jettison). About one-quarter of the way into this video, the heat shield starts to move away from the rover and back shell, and sunlight illuminates the inside surface of the heat shield. Over the course of the next 19 seconds, we see the heat shield falling away from the lander as the lander rapidly slows under the parachute. The heat shield is 15 feet (4.5 meters) across. The range to the heat shield increases from less than 3 feet (a meter) when it first starts to move to several hundred feet (meters) at the end of the video. The video runs at four frames per second.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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: 8 Aug 2012