NASA has successfully conducted Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) to test supersonic parachute that will help its space exploration missions to land on Mars. The parachute was launched aboard of sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in US. It was tested in sky, mimicking conditions of entering red planet.
The test of ASPIRE was meant to mimic conditions that spacecraft will experience during red planet entry, descent and landing (EDL). Shortly after liftoff, ASPIRE splashed down into Atlantic Ocean, from where it was retrieved by boat. Analysis of recovered parachute, and data gathered by cameras and other instruments will help researcher’s complete design of the chute for NASA’s 2020 Mars rover.
NASA’s ambitious Mars rover mission is set to launch in 2020 to deploy six-wheeled vehicle on martian surface to study rocks on site and cache samples for eventual return to Earth. It will rely on special parachute to slow spacecraft down when it is entering Martian atmosphere at over speed of 12,000 mph (5.4 kilometers per second). The six-wheeled rover body is based heavily on NASA’s earlier Curiosity Mars rover.