NASA’s test run of the landing system set for Mars has failed after the parachute tore away from the saucer-shaped vehicle over the Pacific Ocean this morning.
A NASA TV broadcast has showcased the incident. It’s highly similar to the problem that they encountered with the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator’s (LDSD) debut run last year.
It seems that while we’re so close, we’re still so far away!
The parachute has been considered the largest parachute ever deployed and is 30 metres in diameter.
But more work will be needed before the system is ready to land heavy loads on Mars, which has an atmosphere so thin that any parachute that helps a heavy, fast-moving spacecraft touch down needs to be especially strong.
“This is exactly why we do tests like this,” NASA engineer and LDSD mission commentator Dan Coatta said after the test.
“When we’re actually ready to send spacecraft to Mars, we know that they are going to work when that big mission is on the line.”
According to The ABC, The parachute — the largest ever tested — was the second part of a two-part supersonic braking system NASA has been developing for about five years, at a cost of about $US230 million. The test vehicle — the “flying saucer” — weighed 3,088 kilograms, or about twice the weight of the kind of robotic rover spacecraft NASA is currently capable of landing safely on Mars.
So don’t hold your breath – there’s still a while before we’ll be able to escape the Australian political landscape and start our own colony on Mars…
Tell us, would you like to travel to space or is it something completely off your radar? Share your thoughts in the comments below…