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Images of heat shield bound for Mars

Posted: May 18, 2011

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These photos show preparations of the Mars Science Laboratory heat shield by Lockheed Martin. The wind-facing side of the aeroshell is covered in a tan carbon ablator known as PICA, and images of the black opposite side of the structure show exposed wiring for a suite of sensors designed to measure temperatures and pressures as the vehicle plunges into the Martian atmosphere.

The mission is scheduled to blast off Nov. 25 and arrive at Mars in August 2012, when the Curiosity rover will begin driving around the Red Planet seeking clues about possible past life there.

Photo credit: Pat Corkery/Lockheed Martin