NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology JPL HOME EARTH SOLAR SYSTEM STARS & GALAXIES SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY JPL Email News RSS Mobile Video
Follow this link to skip to the main content
JPL banner - links to JPL and CalTech
left nav graphic Overview Science Technology The Mission People Spotlights Events Multimedia All Mars
Mars for Kids
Mars for Students
Mars for Educators
Mars for Press
+ Mars Home
+ Rovers Home
image link to mission page
image link to summary page
image link to rovers update
Where are they now?
month in review
image link to mission team
image link to launch vehicle
link to spacecraft page
Cruise Configuration
Entry, Descent, and Landing Configuration
Aeroshell
Parachute
Airbags
Lander
Surface Operations Configuration
Rover
Instruments
link to mission timetable
communications to earth
Spacecraft: Surface Operations: Rover

Preventing heat escape through insulation called "aerogel"

The rover is also kept warm by a special layer of insulation, called solid silica aerogel, which prevents heat from escaping outside of the rover body walls. Aerogel traps heat inside the rover body. It is a unique silicon-based substance nicknamed "solid smoke" because it is 99.8% air. Aerogel is one thousand times less dense than glass, so it is extraordinarily lightweight, which makes it much cheaper and easier to launch and fly to Mars.

Aerogel is a powerful material. Not only can it block heat from leaving the Mars Exploration Rover body, but it´s the same material used to trap "cosmic bullets" for the Stardust spacecraft that flew through a comet's tail in January of 2004, just as the rovers were reaching Mars.

USA.gov
PRIVACY    |     FAQ    |     SITEMAP    |     CREDITS