US space agency NASA on Friday said that the prototype inflatable braking system that undergone debut test flight in June this year aced to land heavy payloads on the Martian surface but the supersonic parachute needs a reshape so that better accommodation can provided for the turbulent airflow of rapid descent.
The vehicle was popularly called the “falling saucer.”
The engineers at NASA were testing a system called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) as part of the technology development program of the space agency.
The LDSD was launched to an altitude of 190,000 feet after being taken into the stratosphere via a giant helium balloon.
The main objective of the experiment was to increase the speed of the braking system to that of the speed of sound by four times. Scientists say this speed was similar to the speed of a spacecraft that is launched from the Earth surface and would hit the Martian atmosphere.
While addressing a press conference, LDSD project manager Mark Adler said, “Our main objective was to show that we can get this vehicle to altitude that we can get it to conditions that the technologies will see when they actually fly at Mars.”
Adler is associated with Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA in Pasadena, California.
NASA on Friday posted a video that captured footage from both the ground and on the payload. The footage showed deployment of the heat shield without a hitch but the parachute was torn to shreds at the time of the deployment.
“We have leaned that we have more to learn about supersonic parachute inflation. There is a lot of physics to this problem that we’re now getting new insights into,” Clark said.
Nasa has planned two more test flights next year from Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii of the US Navy. Sources say the tests will probably include a heavily revised version of the hardwares.