heat shield

noun Aerospace.
a coating or structure that surrounds part of the nose cone or other vulnerable surfaces of a spacecraft and, by heat absorption or ablation, protects them from excessive heating during reentry.

Origin:
1955–60

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Collins
World English Dictionary
heat shield
 
n
a coating or barrier for shielding from excessive heat, such as that experienced by a spacecraft on re-entry into the earth's atmosphere

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
heat shield  
A barrier that prevents a substance from absorbing heat energy from an outside source by absorbing and dissipating, or simply reflecting, that heat. Heat shields are commonly used to protect parts of a device from heat generated by its energy source, as in isolating the cabin of a car from its motor. Many spacecraft dissipate heat generated by friction with the atmosphere upon reentry using heat shields that melt and vaporize, dissipating the energy back into the atmosphere.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
It indicated that the craft had a loose heat shield.
It was the first of six vehicles to be built, though not equipped for orbital
  flight-having no engines nor a working heat shield.
Inside, the lander was sandwiched between a back shell that housed a parachute
  on top and an ablative heat shield on the bottom.
After popping off its heat shield, the rover will use landing radar to orient
  itself to the ground.
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