Currently, the research center in Ames, California, is testing a new thermal panel ADEPT, working on the principle of an umbrella made from a fabric based on hydrocarbon fiber. During the tests, the conditions for landing the spacecraft on the surface of Mars are modeled.
Until now, panels of phenolic plastic have been used as heat shields. As the screen was heated, the layers of plastic burned, thus removing heat from the main shell. This is a very effective system, but similar shields are very heavy, massive and absolutely not flexible. In addition, with the increase in the weight of spacecraft, we have to make screens of an ever larger diameter.
Developed since the 1970s, the ADEPT screen-umbrella will soon replace the plastic shields. Thanks to the fabric surface of carbon fiber, stretched on folding ribs, the screen turned out much easier. This allows you to open it significantly higher and enter the atmosphere at a smaller angle. As a result, the “stopping distance” of the descent vehicle will become somewhat longer, which will reduce the speed and, consequently, the intensity of its heating.
A descent capsule or an automatic probe equipped with such a system will be able to land on the most difficult areas of the surface. Moreover, the design of the umbrella screen allows you to change the position of the object after landing and even turn into a dwelling for astronauts.