Arnold Tests Mars Vehicle

A team at the Arnold Engineering Development Center’s Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel facility in Silver Spring, Md., has successfully completed atmospheric entry testing of a key component to the Mars Science Laboratory—due to be launched in 2009 for its seven-month trip to Mars. The team tested the aeroshell configuration of the MSL, which is an instrumentation suite carried aboard a rover that officials say is much larger than previous vehicles sent to the “Red Planet.” The aeroshell will provide a protective covering for the MSL during entry into the Martian atmosphere. The wind tunnel test used nitrogen to simulate the Martian atmosphere, which is far less dense than Earth’s.