Aeroshell Instrumentation


Using a sleek, elongated aeroshell, SCIM will race through the Martian atmosphere collecting its precious samples, but won’t be captured into orbit. Instead, after emerging from the atmospheric pass SCIM will rapidly and directly return to Earth with its prized cargo. The cone-shaped aeroshell is similar to geometries of planned Mars human landing systems; instrumenting the aeroshell with sensors will provide critical pathfinder data for future human explorers.

Stardust collection system
SCIM’s sample capture is based on the successful collection system for the Stardust mission (shown above), using cells filled with ultra-light aerogel to capture and preserve the dust particles. Aerogel is both strong and heat resistant and provides perfect protection for SCIM’s Martian cargo.
particle analytical methods
Captured particles are slowed in the aerogel and come to rest at the tip of a carrot-shaped track, with the track pointing the way. In this image from a test, the particle is at the upper right.
aeroshell wind tunnel study
Heating levels on the aeroshell are estimated with cutting edge computational models, and anchored to reality through wind tunnel testing. These images show the results of such tests (left) and calculations (right). As expected, heating levels near the aeroshell nose are highest, while the rear of the spacecraft stays much cooler.
aeroshell shock wave
Extensive modeling and experiments by the SCIM team have shown that small particles easily traverse the atmospheric shock wave and reach the collection system, which is located near the rear of the spacecraft where temperatures are relatively cool. The design of the collection system will result in minimal heating of the dust particles during the capture process in order to maximize science return.

Tested and Ready

Testing on Earth and high end computational models have guided SCIM’s design to ensure that particles will reach our aerogel collectors and that heating levels are low to ensure the sampling system and particles preserve the best science.

The flight system design is mature, and NASA experts have previously deemed development plans low risk.

Our team members combine world-renowned scientific expertise with deep mission development & management experience including senior positions at NASA. We are ready to journey to Mars!

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We are dedicated to advancing the frontiers of space science and exploration.

Together we will create new levels of public access and engagement in scientific research from space. Support us as we all explore the universe, galaxies, and new solar systems - discoveries await!

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