Picture of the Day: The Inverted Heat Shield of NASA's Opportunity

579975main_PIA07402_full.jpg

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured this photograph of its own destroyed heat shield on December 21, 2004, at about 1:22 p.m. local solar time. The heat shield, which is shown here broken into two large pieces with the main chunk on the left edge of the photograph, protected Opportunity as it descended through the Martian atmosphere.

Heat Shield Rock, the meteorite that sits just in front of the primary component, marks a spot near where the shield landed. "The rover spent 36 sold investigating how the severe heating during entry through the atmosphere affected the heat shield," according to NASA. "The most obvious is the fact that the heat shield inverted upon impact." In this image, the sun reflects off of the silver-colored underside -- now on the outside -- of the thermal blankets that lined the shield.

View more Pictures of the Day.

Image: NASA.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Technology

Just In