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

More

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.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In