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Final ASPIRE test certifies Mars 2020 parachute

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The Black Brant 9 sounding rocket separates from the ASPIRE payload on its third and final test flight on Sept. 7, 2018. Photo Credit: NASA

The Black Brant 9 sounding rocket separates from the ASPIRE payload on its third and remaining take a look at flight on Sept. 7, 2018. Photograph Credit score: NASA

NASA efficiently examined a supersonic parachute excessive in Earth’s environment to simulate deployment within the much-thinner Martian environment. Designed for the Mars 2020 mission, it was the quickest parachute inflation of this measurement in historical past with a peak load pressure of 70,000 kilos, NASA stated.

The Superior Supersonic Parachute Inflation Analysis Experiment (ASPIRE) was developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and launched on the Goddard House Flight Heart’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. The third and remaining take a look at of the ASPIRE venture occurred Sept. 7, 2018, confirming the parachute is “licensed for flight at Mars.”

Launched atop a 58-foot (17.7-meter) tall, two-stage Black Brant 9 sounding rocket, the parachute was tucked in a bullet-nosed, cylindrical construction together with its deployment mechanism and the take a look at’s high-definition instrumentation—together with cameras—to document knowledge. 

The third and final ASPIRE test was the fastest inflation of this size parachute in history, deploying in about four-tenths of a second. Photo Credit: NASA

The third and remaining ASPIRE take a look at was the quickest inflation of this measurement parachute in historical past, deploying in about four-tenths of a second. Photograph Credit score: NASA

“Mars 2020 might be carrying the heaviest payload but to the floor of Mars, and like all our prior Mars missions, we solely have one parachute and it has to work,” stated Mars 2020 mission Challenge Supervisor John McNamee in a NASA news release. “The ASPIRE exams have proven in exceptional element how our parachute will react when it’s first deployed right into a supersonic stream excessive above Mars. And let me let you know, it appears to be like stunning.”

Three separate take a look at launches (one Oct. 9, 2017, April 20, 2018, and Sept. 7, 2018) decided which parachute design could be used for the Mars 2020 mission. In 2012, the same parachute idea was used for the Curiosity rover mission.

For this take a look at, NASA stated the parachute, which was fabricated from nylon, Kevlar and Technora fibers, was packed right into a “small drum-sized bag” earlier than being launched to an altitude of about 23 miles (37 kilometers) and a velocity of about Mach 1.eight. Then, inside lower than a half-second, the 180-pound parachute was deployed and absolutely inflated with a quantity of “a big home.”

“Earth’s environment close to the floor is far denser than that close to the Martian floor, by about 100 instances,” stated Ian Clark, the take a look at’s technical lead from JPL. “However excessive up – round 23 miles (37 kilometers) – the atmospheric density on Earth is similar to 6 miles (10 kilometers) above Mars, which occurs to be the altitude that Mars 2020 will deploy its parachute.”

The Mars 2020 rover is scheduled to launch in July of 2020 with a scheduled touchdown in February 2021. The mission goals to hunt indicators of historic Martian life by investigating proof on the Pink Planet and by caching drilled samples of Martian rocks for potential future return to Earth by one other mission.

Video courtesy of JPL




Heather Smith’s fascination for area exploration – began on the tender age of twelve whereas she was on a sixth-grade discipline journey in Kenner, Louisiana, strolling by a mock-up of the Worldwide House Station and seeing the “area potty” (her terminology has progressed significantly since that point) – she realized at this level that her future lay within the stars.

Smith has come to appreciate that only a few individuals have seen how a lot spaceflight know-how has improved their lives. She has since devoted herself to correcting this downside. Impressed by such basic literature as Anne Frank’s Diary, she has honed her writing expertise and has signed on as The Spaceflight Group’s coordinator for the group’s social media efforts.

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