Engineers at NASA’s Langley research center are developing inflatable technology that would allow larger spacecraft entry to Mars and other planets with similar atmospheric challenges. The new technology looks like an infant’s stacking ring toy. It would be filled with nitrogen and covered with a thermal blanket of layers of heat resistant materials.
The lightweight material would not waste valuable fuel or space, which means there would be enough room for important tools and supplies.
After ten years of research and experimentation, Langley engineers believe this technology will soon be ready for use in a large robotic mission. Ultimately, inflatable heat shields may help humans land on Mars.