Nasa 'flying saucer' tests Mars tech

A flying saucer-shaped vehicle was sent high into the atmosphere via a balloon from Hawaii.

Nasa 'flying saucer' tests Mars tech

World Bulletin / News Desk

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 from Hawaii. 

It was 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 current limit being one and a half tonnes, Nasa hopes it will be able to put heavier payloads on Mars in the decades ahead with the lessons learned. 

The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), the test vehicle, ditched in the Pacific after its flight.

Teams tried to locate the demonstrator so that the data it had recorded could be recovered. 

Most of the flight was captured by the video cameras on the ground and on the LDSD. 

The helium balloon was launched from the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai at just after 08:40 local time (18:40 GMT).

It was released after two hours of attempts to raise the saucer shaped vehicle to roughly 35km (120,000ft). 

The LDSD was then kicked by a rocket motor on up through the stratosphere to above 50km (160,000ft), and to a velocity of Mach 4 (four times the speed of sound).

It deployed the first of its two new atmospheric braking systems as the vehicle slowed down. 

This first system was a 6m (20ft) inflatable "doughnut" that enlarged the LDSD’s girth. 

However the second braking system 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 whether the technologies on the LDSD data worked properly or not they would gather valuable data.

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

Last Mod: 29 Haziran 2014, 15:38
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