NASA's Mars 2020 mission performs first supersonic parachute test

Postado Novembro 15, 2017

In NASA noted that the tests were quite successful, because scientists were able to estimate the parachute, which is nearly a copy of similar articles, 2012.

A video of the October 4 test shows a bullet-nosed, cylindrical structure holding the parachute, its deployment mechanism, and camera instruments launched on a 58-foot-tall Black Brant IX sounding rocket.

"It is quite a ride", said Ian Clark, the test's technical lead from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Forty-two seconds later, at an altitude of 26 miles (42 kilometers) and a velocity of 1.8 times the speed of sound, the test conditions were met and the Mars parachute successfully deployed. "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 said of the test. The test took place on October 4, 2017, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Given the number of failed attempts to land a spacecraft on the surface of Mars, since the first such endeavor by the former Soviet Union in 1962, NASA is not taking any chances with the Mars 2020 mission. The parachute gave a momentum which was 1.8 times the speed of sound or almost 1,300 miles an hour and generated almost 35,000 pounds of drag force, the friction which helps to slow the payload when it was fully inflated.

The test flight carried its payload to a height of about 32 miles (51 kilometers) above Earth's surface, in the upper atmosphere.

This was the first parachute test for the Mars 2020 mission which aims to seek signs of ancient Martian life. This was the first test of the Mars 2020 mission's parachute-testing series, the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment, or ASPIRE.

The parachute itself was only very slightly different from the one that was used to successfully land NASA's Mars Science Laboratory on Mars in 2012. However, future tests will evaluate the performance of a strengthened parachute that could also be used in future missions, and the Mars 2020 design will be finalised closer to launch.

NASA will test the parachute, named ASPIRE (Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment), again in February next year.

All the operation went according to plan and the device with the devices splashed down in the Atlantic ocean.