This is a video of NASA test of an enormous parachute that could one day be used on Mars to decelerate a spacecraft with astronauts from Mach 2 (1800 km/h) to less than 300 km/h!
This test took place at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake in California.
The sled has 4 rockets that accelerate it very quickly so that the supersonic parachute, wired to the sled, is tested if it can hold up under the great stress of more than 90000 lbs. The parachute is 33 meters in diameter.
Humanity needs such technology if we are ever to land anything heavier than Curiosity on Mars. Current technology can land on Mars around 1 metric ton, but a human lander on Mars is expected to weigh more than 40 tons!
The problem with the Martian atmosphere is that it can’t fully inflate a large parachute in time to stop a heavy landing vehicle. In addition to the gargantuan parachute seen on the video, NASA researches the use of low-density supersonic decelerators. These are rigid inflatables, somewhere between a parachute and a balloon. They are very rigid and can withstand speeds of several times the speed of sound, which a parachute can’t.
by Tihomir Dimitrov – 02.2014