NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission Performs First Supersonic Parachute Test

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A 58-foot-tall Black Brant IX sounding rocket launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Oct. 4. This was a initial exam of a Mars 2020 mission’s parachute-testing series, a Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment, or ASPIRE. Image credit: NASA/Wallops

Landing on Mars is formidable and not always successful. Well-designed allege contrast helps. An desirous NASA Mars corsair goal set to launch in 2020 will rest on a special parachute to delayed a booster down as it enters a Martian atmosphere during over 12,000 mph (5.4 kilometers per second). Preparations for this goal have provided, for a initial time, thespian video of a parachute opening during supersonic speed.

The Mars 2020 goal will find signs of ancient Martian life by questioning justification in place and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for intensity destiny lapse to Earth. The mission’s parachute-testing series, a Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment, or ASPIRE, began with a rocket launch and upper-atmosphere moody final month from a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.

› DOWNLOAD VIDEO NASA’s Mars 2020 Supersonic Parachute: Test Flight #1

“It is utterly a ride,” pronounced Ian Clark, a test’s technical lead from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “The imagery of a initial parachute acceleration is roughly as monumental to spy as it is scientifically significant. For a initial time, we get to see what it would demeanour like to be in a booster hurtling towards a Red Planet, unfurling a parachute.”

A 58-foot-tall (17.7-meter) Black Brant IX sounding rocket launched from Wallops on Oct. 4 for this analysis of a ASPIRE cargo performance. The cargo is a bullet-nosed, cylindrical structure holding a supersonic parachute, a parachute’s deployment mechanism, and a test’s high-definition orchestration — including cameras — to record data.

The rocket carried a cargo as high as about 32 miles (51 kilometers). Forty-two seconds later, during an altitude of 26 miles (42 kilometers) and a quickness of 1.8 times a speed of sound, a exam conditions were met and a Mars parachute successfully deployed. Thirty-five mins after launch, ASPIRE splashed down in a Atlantic Ocean about 34 miles (54 kilometers) southeast of Wallops Island.

“Everything went according to devise or improved than planned,” pronounced Clark. “We not usually valid that we could get a cargo to a scold altitude and quickness conditions to best impersonate a parachute deployment in a Martian atmosphere, though as an combined bonus, we got to see a parachute in movement as well.”

The parachute tested during this initial moody was roughly an accurate duplicate of a parachute used to land NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory successfully on a Red Planet in 2012. Future tests will weigh a opening of a strengthened parachute that could also be used in destiny Mars missions. The Mars 2020 group will use information from these tests to finalize a pattern for a mission.

The subsequent ASPIRE exam is designed for Feb 2018.

The Mars 2020 project’s parachute-testing series, ASPIRE, is managed by a Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with support from NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, and NASA’s Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California, for NASA’s Space Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program is formed during a agency’s Wallops Flight Facility. Orbital ATK provides goal planning, engineering services and margin operations by a NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract. NASA’s Heliophysics Division manages a sounding-rocket module for a agency.

Source: JPL

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