Item #: SPA01993-46302
Artist's concept of possible exploration programs. The amount of mass that must be lifted from Earth for human missions to Mars can be reduced by as much as 50 percent if a structure called an aero-brake is employed. The Mars landing vehicle depicted here uses a molly bolt design that allows the aero-brake to be deployed in a flat shape for atmospheric entry and landing, and then retracted to form a smooth conical shape for ascent. Artwork done by Pat Rawlings. (NASA Media Archives).