Episode 158: Why Does a Spacecraft Need a Heat Shield?

Meet the Expert: Dr. Sarah D’Souza, the Orion Thermal Protection Deputy System Manager at NASA Ames

Dr. Sarah D'Souza, NASA engineer

Dr. Sarah DSouza is currently the Orion Thermal Protection System (TPS) Deputy System Manager at NASA Ames Research Center which is part of NASA’s Artemis program. Dr. DSouza is a California native with a passion for all things aerospace and a proud graduate of the University of California at Davis in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. Sarah’s passion for space has led her to a vibrant career at NASA Johnson Space Center and NASA Ames Research Center working in laboratory, engineering, and space operations environments. She has worked on ISS Water Recovery Systems for sustainable living in space, Space Shuttle Mechanical and Robotics Systems training for astronauts, Ice Sensing & Electromagnetics Systems, Orion Flight Dynamics and Trajectory Design, and in the Orion European Service Module Integration Office.




Orion heat shield

The Orion heat shield being built– credit NASA

Orion heat shield attached to Orion

Heat shield attached to the Orion spacecraft– credit NASA



Challenge:   Try to design your own protective shield for an egg or other rounded object. You can create your own panels or cushion or whatever works. Then test it out! Did it work? 

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