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NASA Releases Footage of "Flying Saucer" Braking Test, Declares Success 55

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-have-mars-I'll-stay-here dept.
According to the AP, in a story carried by the San Jose Mercury News, NASA engineers insisted Friday that a test of a vehicle they hope to one day use on Mars achieved most of its objectives, despite a parachute that virtually disintegrated the moment it deployed. The engineers laid out at a news conference what they've learned in the six weeks since the $150 million high-altitude test of a vehicle that's designed to bring spacecraft -- and eventually astronauts -- safely to Mars. Engineers said they achieved the main objective: getting a flying saucer-shaped craft to 190,000 feet above the Earth at more than four times the speed of sound under test conditions that matched the Martian atmosphere. Ars Technica has (beautiful, high-speed, high-definition) video of the test that shows the parachute tearing itself apart, as well as the many parts that went as planned.
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NASA Releases Footage of "Flying Saucer" Braking Test, Declares Success

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 09, 2014 @07:22PM (#47639703)

    The parachute that brought the latest rover to Mars also disintegrated during testing. However NASA proceeded with the design knowing that the atmosphere on Mars is not nearly as dense as it is on Earth. Is the disintegration of the parachute actually considered by NASA to be a failure, or is this article just fishing for clicks with sensationalist titles?

  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @09:23PM (#47640077)
    Parachutes can't slow things down much on Mars anyway which is why this is a far lesser deal than if it was designed to land on Earth. There's a nice bit on the website for the Xplane game about their Mars simulation stuff that describes it well. Their Mars flyer you can play with is like a U2 that steers like a cow and has to land at supersonic speed since parachutes can't do much to slow it down.
  • by Ford Prefect (8777) on Saturday August 09, 2014 @10:38PM (#47640293) Homepage

    The parachute that brought the latest rover to Mars also disintegrated during testing. However NASA proceeded with the design knowing that the atmosphere on Mars is not nearly as dense as it is on Earth.

    They got it working in testing [youtube.com] after that initial failure - and even that failure provided extremely useful high-speed video [youtube.com] of its deployment.

    Note the colossal wind tunnel. This latest, flying saucer tested parachute is way larger than that Curiosity parachute - so they've figured out a whole new testing regime. One that helpfully more closely matches conditions in the Martian atmosphere, too.

  • Re:remember when (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @01:12PM (#47642765)

    Because the human species thrives in the presence of new frontiers - it gives the established societies a release valve so that the most ardent malcontents don't cause trouble at home, and gives the malcontents at least the dream of a better life out from under the thumb of the established powers.

    For the past couple centuries we've been living in a world without significant frontiers, and faced with the ever-increasing abuse of authoritarian power structures. We dream of far-off horizons because though even mere survival would be a struggle, it would be a struggle with a chance of freedom and a better life, whereas at home the only realistic option is to accept your ever-shrinking piece of the pie as the powerful steadily consolidate wealth and power, exploiting it mercilessly at the expense of anyone who happens to be in their path. Once the powerful have cemented their position the only escape at home seems to be bloody revolution with little chance of success, not something most people would wish to dream of.

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