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BIO Magazine - Nasa 'flying saucer' tests Mars tech Δεκέμβριος 2015
Δεκέμβριος 2015 No38

BIO Space Sciences

Nasa 'flying saucer' tests Mars tech
Nasa 'flying saucer' tests Mars tech

A US space agency (Nasa) experiment on Saturday to test future Mars landing technologies proved largely successful.

A flying saucer-shaped vehicle was sent high into the atmosphere via a balloon to trial a new type of parachute and an inflatable Kevlar ring that could help slow down a spacecraft as it approaches the Red Planet's surface.

All of the equipment appeared to work apart from the parachute, which failed to deploy fully.

The experiment was sent up from Hawaii.

Nasa hopes the lessons learned will enable it put heavier payloads on Mars in the decades ahead.

The current limit is about one-and-a-half tonnes.

Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) The LDSD was released almost three hours after its carrier balloon left the ground

As the vehicle began to slow, it deployed the first of its two new atmospheric braking systems.

This first system was a 6m (20ft) inflatable "doughnut". It enlarged the LDSD's girth and so will have slowed the saucer further by increasing the amount of drag it experienced.

The second braking system, however, did not come out properly.

Upward-looking video showed the 30m-diameter supersonic parachute failing to unfurl correctly.

Nasa engineers said before the test that they would gather valuable data whether the technologies on the LDSD worked properly or not.

The project hopes to return to Hawaii next year to conduct two further test flights.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27799129

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