Skip to content

April 12, 2014

Watch NASA simulate a Mars landing on Earth to test supersonic parachutes

by John_A

To make sure the (very expensive) equipment we’re sending to Mars don’t crash into the ground, NASA’s putting its huge supersonic parachutes through a grueling test. Wait, what do parachutes have to do with Mars missions anyway? Well, if you read up on the Curiosity rover’s risky landing in 2012, you’ll see that NASA used a parachute to slow down its descent. That parachute won’t work for the bigger things we’re bound to send to the red planet in the future, though, so NASA designed a larger one called low-density supersonic decelerator or LDSD. The problem is, it’s too big for most of the agency’s wind tunnels and locations for testing, prompting NASA to create a special outdoor rig that simulates Martian landing.

NASA’s contraption is a complex set-up that includes a large number of elements, including a Night Hawk helicopter, hundreds of pounds of weight, a winch, a sled, rockets and a lot of rope. It’s like a Rube Goldberg machine, especially since the process needs to go down in sequence, but the end task is nowhere near simple. A huge chunk of the parachute got ripped out in the test video below, but since this test was designed to discover flaws, we’d say it was a huge success.

Filed under:

Comments

Source: NASA (Twitter)

Read more from News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: