NASA’s Mars 2020 mission performs first supersonic parachute take a look at

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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. Credit: NASA/Wallops

Landing on Mars is tough and never all the time profitable. Well-designed advance testing helps. An formidable NASA Mars rover mission set to launch in 2020 will depend on a particular parachute to gradual the spacecraft down because it enters the Martian environment at over 12,000 mph (5.four kilometers per second). Preparations for this mission have supplied, for the primary time, dramatic video of the parachute opening at supersonic velocity.


The Mars 2020 mission will search indicators of historic Martian life by investigating proof in place and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for potential future return to Earth. The mission’s parachute-testing sequence, the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment, or ASPIRE, started with a rocket launch and upper-atmosphere flight final month from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.

“It is quite a ride,” stated Ian Clark, the take a look at’s technical lead from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “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.”

A 58-foot-tall (17.7-meter) Black Brant IX sounding rocket launched from Wallops on Oct. four for this badysis of the ASPIRE payload efficiency. The payload is a bullet-nosed, cylindrical construction holding a supersonic parachute, the parachute’s deployment mechanism, and the take a look at’s high-definition instrumentation—together with cameras—to document information.

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Credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The rocket carried the payload as excessive as about 32 miles (51 kilometers). Forty-two seconds later, at an altitude of 26 miles (42 kilometers) and a velocity of 1.eight occasions the velocity of sound, the take a look at circumstances had been met and the Mars parachute efficiently deployed. Thirty-five minutes after launch, ASPIRE splashed down within the Atlantic Ocean about 34 miles (54 kilometers) southeast of Wallops Island.

“Everything went according to plan or better than planned,” stated Clark. “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.”

The parachute examined throughout this primary flight was virtually a precise copy of the parachute used to land NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory efficiently on the Red Planet in 2012. Future exams will consider the efficiency of a strengthened parachute that may be utilized in future Mars missions. The Mars 2020 staff will use information from these exams to finalize the design for its mission.

The subsequent ASPIRE take a look at is deliberate for February 2018.


Explore additional:
NASA to check supersonic parachute in flying saucer launch (Update)

Provided by:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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