NASA Tests Mars 2020 Mission’s Supersonic Parachute To Perfect Red Planet Landing


Given the variety of failed makes an attempt to land a spacecraft on the floor of Mars, because the first such endeavor by the previous Soviet Union in 1962, NASA shouldn’t be taking any probabilities with the Mars 2020 mission. The house company’s subsequent Martian rover had its touchdown system examined just lately, as a result of as NASA put it, “well-designed advance testing helps.”

NASA, which has had its share of Martian landings gone incorrect, is counting on a particular parachute to decelerate the Mars 2020 rover. The spacecraft will enter the Martian ambiance at a velocity of over 12,000 miles an hour (5.four kilometers a second) and the parachute will open quicker than the velocity of sound to do its job.

The supersonic parachute noticed its first take a look at on a 58-foot-tall Black Brant IX sounding rocket launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, on Oct. four, the company introduced Tuesday.

“It is quite a ride. The imagery of our first parachute inflation is almost as breathtaking to behold as it is scientifically significant. For the first time, we get to see what it would look like to be in a spacecraft hurtling towards the Red Planet, unfurling its parachute,” Ian Clark, the take a look at’s technical lead from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, mentioned within the badertion.

The take a look at flight carried its payload to a peak of about 32 miles (51 kilometers) above Earth’s floor, within the higher ambiance. But take a look at situations have been met 42 seconds later, when the rocket had climbed right down to an altitude of 26 miles whereas transferring at 1.eight instances quicker than the sound.

At that time, the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) payload — “a bullet-nosed, cylindrical structure holding a supersonic parachute, the parachute’s deployment mechanism, and the test’s high-definition instrumentation — including cameras — to record data” — was deployed. About 35 minutes later, ASPIRE fell within the Atlantic Ocean about 34 miles from its launch web site.

Parachute Landing System Test A 58-foot-tall Black Brant IX sounding rocket launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Oct. four. This was the primary take a look at of the Mars 2020 mission’s parachute-testing sequence, the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment, or ASPIRE. Photo: NASA/Wallops

“Everything went according to plan or better than planned. We not only proved that we could get our payload to the correct altitude and velocity conditions to best mimic a parachute deployment in the Martian atmosphere, but as an added bonus, we got to see our parachute in action as well,” Clark mentioned of the take a look at.

The parachute itself was solely very barely completely different from the one which was used to efficiently land NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory on Mars in 2012. However, future checks will use a strengthened parachute and relying on its efficiency, that model could possibly be used for future Mars missions, together with the Mars 2020 mission maybe. The subsequent ASPIRE take a look at is scheduled to be held in February 2018.

Mars 2020 will search for indicators of previous life on the pink planet, if it ever existed on Mars in any respect, each by badyzing proof on location and by ambading drilled samples for his or her potential return to Earth sooner or later, the place they are often investigated in additional element.

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