[meteorite-list] JPL to Test New Supersonic Decelerator Technology

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2013 09:35:02 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201312181735.rBIHZ2oL021816_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


JPL to Test New Supersonic Decelerator Technology
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
December 17, 2013

A giant crane will tower above NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., shooting out of a hilly mesa like an oversized erector
set, ready to help test components of NASA's Low Density Supersonic
Decelerator (LDSD) project. The goal of the challenging technology, led
by JPL, is to enable a future mission to Mars or other planetary bodies
that uses heavier spacecraft and lands them at locations that were
previously not achievable.

The crane-test is scheduled for tomorrow, Dec. 18, weather permitting.
The test will simulate the acceleration of a large parachute being
pulled away from a spacecraft. The purpose of the test is to show that
all of the parachute lines and bridles come out in an organized manner
and do not catch on other vehicle hardware as they are deployed.

Validation tests are crucial to working out the kinks before a system of
this type is used for future space missions. During this test, the
parachute, which has a diameter of roughly 100 feet (30.5 meters), will
not open. Its size is a significant upgrade by comparison to parachutes
that have come before it. For instance, last year's successful landing
of NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover utilized a parachute that measured only
51 feet (15.5 meters) across, about half the size.

The heavier planetary landers of the future require much larger drag
devices than any now in use to slow them down -- and those
next-generation drag devices will need to be deployed at higher
supersonic speeds to safely land a vehicle, plus crew and cargo for
potential human missions.

Current Mars landing techniques date back to NASA's Viking mission,
which put two landers on Mars in 1976. That mission's basic parachute
design has been in use ever since, with additional landing technologies,
and was used again in 2012 to deliver the Curiosity rover to Mars. To
conduct more massive exploration missions in the future, however, NASA
must advance the technology to a new level of sophistication.

Testing for the LDSD project began in 2012 at the U.S. Navy's China Lake
Naval Air Weapons Station in California and will be conducted through 2015.

In the next few years, the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator Technology
Demonstration Mission will conduct full-scale, stratospheric tests of
these breakthrough technologies high above Earth to prove their value
for future space exploration missions.

More information about LDSD is at:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/ldsd/#.UqsZZGRDt9k .

David Israel 818-354-4797
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
david.israel at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Wed 18 Dec 2013 12:35:02 PM PST

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