Langley's MEDLI, As it Descends to Mars
This image shows the inside of the heat shield of NASA's Curiosity rover during descent to the surface of Mars.
Also seen in this image is the Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrument (MEDLI) hardware attached to the inside surface. Developed by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., MEDLI consists of 14 sensors that recorded heat and atmospheric pressure during the spacecraft's high-speed, extremely hot entry into the Martian atmosphere.
This is the first time NASA has used this level of sensor to collect accurate, real-time, high-fidelity data of atmospheric entry at another planet. Having that knowledge is important to spacecraft designers – especially for developing Mars entry systems that are safer, more reliable and lighter weight.
The image is by the Mars Descent Imager instrument (MARDI). The bright patches are calibration targets for MARDI.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS