See NASA's supersonic Mars parachute set a thrilling record

These near-true colour looks at Pluto and Charon were captured as New Horizons passed by these worlds in July of 2015. Credit NASA  JHUAPL  SwRI

These near-true colour looks at Pluto and Charon were captured as New Horizons passed by these worlds in July of 2015. Credit NASA JHUAPL SwRI

This created a peak load of almost 70,000lbs of force, according to NASA, earning it a record for the fastest inflation of a parachute this large.

This wasn't just any parachute.

Mars 2020 will be carrying the heaviest payload yet to the surface of Mars, and like all our prior Mars missions, we only have one parachute and it has to work.

While one of these was nearly an exact copy of the parachute used for NASA's Mars Science Lab, the other had stronger materials and stitching.

'The ASPIRE tests have shown in remarkable detail how our parachute will react when it is first deployed into a supersonic flow high above Mars.

The space agency tested parachutes as a part of its Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) project, looking at two different parachute designs.

'And let me tell you, it looks attractive'.

"Earth's atmosphere near the surface is much denser than that near the Martian surface, by about 100 times", said Ian Clark, the technical lead handling the experiment from JPL. The parachute was packed as a payload, ultimately separating from the rocket to fall back to Earth.

'But high up - around 23 miles (37 kilometers) - the atmospheric density on Earth is very similar to 6 mile (10 kilometers) above Mars, which happens to be the altitude that Mars 2020 will deploy its parachute'. The third and final flight test of the ASPIRE payload was launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on September 7, 2018. But that doesn't mean the fun times are over.

Space exploration news is mostly found on the internet and TV, but NASA is providing another cool medium that will allow science buffs to tune into its latest Mars mission.

'We are all about helping 2020 stick its landing 28 months from now, ' Clark said. NASA's Sounding Rocket Program is based at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. While interviews with aerospace engineers and rocket scientists may not sound like the most scintillating podcast, it is a surprisingly captivating story, as the odds of Insight reaching the surface safely are slim, since fewer than half of Mars missions make it.

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