News Picks : NASA to test new balloon-based Mars landing system
10 April 2014
New Scientist: NASA is about to start testing a new system for landing heavier spacecraft on Mars. Because Mars’s atmosphere is just 1% as dense as Earth’s, landing spacecraft on its surface has posed technological problems. So far, NASA has used parachutes for most robotic Mars landings, but future missions involving the landing of humans will involve more equipment and, hence, more weight. To handle the more massive payloads, NASA has been developing the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), which combines a parachute with a huge balloon that will inflate around the entry vehicle. Starting in June, NASA will conduct a series of tests over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii during which the drag devices will be deployed at supersonic speeds high in Earth’s stratosphere.