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Technology Demonstration Missions

MSL Entry Descent and Landing Instrumentation (MEDLI)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The MSL Entry, Descent, & Landing Instrument (MEDLI) Suite is a set of engineering sensors designed to measure the atmospheric conditions and performance of the entry vehicle's heatshield during atmospheric entry and descent. The instrument suite, which flew on the Mars Science Laboratory and entered the Mars atmosphere on August 6, 2012,  provided important engineering data for the design of entry systems for future planetary missions.

The Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation suite is a series of sensors embedded in the heat shield of the Mars Science Laboratory, which was launched Nov. 26, 2011, and successfully entered the Mars atmosphere Aug. 6, 2012. The MEDLI sensors successfully measured the temperature and pressure endured by the heat shield during atmospheric entry and descent at Mars. MEDLI transmitted to Earth important engineering data concerning the atmospheric entry conditions and heat shield performance. The data is being used to refine the design of future heat shields, minimizing weight and improving performance. Infusion customers include NASA’s Mars Exploration Program and NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

MEDLI: Key Mission Facts
- The MSL Entry, Descent, & Landing Instrument Suite is a first-of-its-kind instrumentation system on the Mars Science Laboratory.
- MEDLI measured the temperature and pressure on the spacecraft as it flew through the Martian atmosphere, delivering unprecedented environmental data that will help NASA build more efficient robotic and crewed Mars landers in the future.
- About a tenth of MEDLI's data was transmitted during entry and descent; the rest was stored on the Curiosity rover and communicated a few days after landing.
- MEDLI data helped generate the "tones" that told the operations team on Earth how the spacecraft was progressing through the Mars atmosphere, delivering heatshield temperature data and other information.

 

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