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Mars Parachute Tested for 2020 Supersonic Blossoming Over Red Planet (Video)

Image: Mars Parachute Tested for 2020 Supersonic Blossoming Over Red Planet (Video)
(NASA/JPL)

By    |   Thursday, 16 November 2017 09:26 AM

A Mars parachute for NASA’s next mission to the red planet in 2020 was tested successfully, deploying at an altitude of 26 miles. In the thin Martian atmosphere it will have to open at supersonic speed.

Video of last month’s deployment, released by NASA on Tuesday, will be scrutinized for any mishaps, the tech website CNET.com reported, because the parachute will open over Mars at velocity of 1.8 times the speed of sound as it lands the agency’s new rover.

The video of the high-altitude deployment of the parachute, called the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE), has been viewed more than 73,000 times since being posted on YouTube.

"It is quite a ride," said Ian Clark, the test's technical lead at 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."

NASA's Mars 2020 mission will search for clues of ancient Martian life by investigating evidence in place and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for potential future return to Earth, the space agency said.

ASPIRE's test started with a rocket launch and upper-atmosphere flight from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. When test conditions were met, the parachute was deployed, with the rocket's payload splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean about 34 miles from Wallops Island, NASA said.

"Everything went according to plan or better than planned," Clark said. "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."

Gizmodo reported earlier this month that NASA's new Mars 2020 probe will be equipped with 23 cameras, 13 more than Spirit and Opportunity, and will record everything from the rover's landing to engineering tests, along with working in tandem with its many scientific instruments.

"Camera technology keeps improving," said NASA's Justin Maki, Mars 2020's imaging scientistt. "Each successive mission (we are) able to utilize these improvements, with better performance and lower cost."

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A Mars parachute for NASA’s next mission to the red planet in 2020 was tested successfully, deploying at an altitude of 26 miles. In the thin Martian atmosphere it will have to open at supersonic speed.
mars, parachute, tested
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2017-26-16
Thursday, 16 November 2017 09:26 AM
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