MEDLI and MSL Heatshield
MEDLI and MSL Heatshield

NASA Langley's Mars Entry, Descent and Landing Instrument (MEDLI) - black box, middle left - is one step closer to its momentous trip to the Red Planet as part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission scheduled to launch as early as Nov. 25.

Lockheed Martin installed the Langley-built MEDLI on the backside of MSL's aeroshell/heat shield before the heat shield was delivered to the Kennedy Space Center. At almost 15 feet in diameter the aeroshell is the biggest ever built for a planetary mission and it's the first outfitted with sensors such as MEDLI.

The MEDLI is actually made up of two kinds of instruments (with seven sensors of each kind) that are installed in 14 places on the spacecraft's heat shield. It will gather engineering data on aeroheating by using sensor plugs and pressure ports embedded into holes drilled in the spacecraft's aeroshell.

The MEDLI instrumentation will also measure heat shield temperatures and atmospheric pressures during the spacecraft's high-speed, extremely hot entry into the Martian atmosphere. The data will help engineers design future systems for Mars entry that are safer, more reliable, and lighter weight.

Credit: Lockheed Martin

Page Last Updated: August 21st, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator