Last month, NASA took another step towards the Red Planet with a test of its supersonic parachute, designed to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere at more than 12,000 mph. A dramatic video on board the test flight captured the parachute opening flawlessly at virtually twice the speed of sound.
“It is quite a ride! The imagery of our first parachute inflation is almost as breathtaking to behold because this is scientifically significant, ” said Ian Clark of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “For the first time, we get to see what it would look like to be in a spacecraft lunging towards the Red Planet, unfurling its parachute.”
An earlier parachute test resulted in a failing, with the parachute shredding soon after deployment.
The first phase of the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment( ASPIRE) was launched aboard a Black Brant IX rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia. After reaching a high levels of 32 miles, the payload capsule began to plummet back to Earth. Once it reached a velocity of Mach 1.8 at a height of 26 miles, the Mars parachute deployed successfully. The ASPIRE splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean 35 minutes after liftoff
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