Mars is a very challenging destination. It has a very thin atmosphere — too much of an atmosphere to ignore, but not enough for us to do the things we would at other planets. That was our motivation about nine years ago when we started doing this stuff. …We want to go to higher latitudes at that mass, or use this technology for larger payloads, such as humans.Neil Cheatwood, principal investigator of NASA’s IRVE-3 (Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment 3), an inflatable heat shield that he believes may have future application in transporting humans to Mars. In the short term, though, the goal is to make it easier to transport space vessels or rovers onto higher latitudes on the Martian surface. Cheatwood also mentioned that the shield could be used to off-load garbage left at the International Space Station and return it to Earth.