ESA tests giant parachute for upcoming ExoMars mission

The ESA is testing their giant parachute in preparation of the 2021 ExoMars mission.
By Tyler MacDonald | Apr 02, 2018
The European Space Agency (ESA) tested its giant parachute a few days ago in preparation for the 2021 ExoMars mission, according to Digital Trends. The trial parachute, which was deployed less than a mile above the Earth's surface, made it to the ground without problems.

The test proved that the parachute has the ability to descend with no less than 112 lines connected to its 1,100-pound test load. It weights 154 pounds in total and will be responsible for delivering the ExoMars rover to the Red Planet in 2021.

If all goes well, the parachute will be the largest ever to fly on a Mars mission. In addition, the ESA says that the rover will be the "first of its kind to drill below the surface and determine if evidence of life is buried underground, protected from the destructive radiation that impinges the surface today."

The most recent test took place in sub-zero conditions in Kiruna, Sweden, in an attempt to imitate the harsh temperatures that the parachute will have to endure on Mars. The next planned test will deploy the parachute from a stratospheric balloon hovering approximately 19 miles off the ground to imitate Mars' low atmospheric pressure.

"The successful deployment of our large ExoMars parachute using a smaller pilot chute and its subsequent stable descent without damage, is a major milestone for the project," said ESA's Thierry Blancquaert, who is a part of the ExoMars team."It was a very exciting moment to see this giant parachute unfurl and deliver the test module to the snowy surface in Kiruna."

The ESA is also planning on conducting a"full parachute deployment sequence, which comprises two main parachutes, each with a pilot chute." If everything goes according to plan, the parachute will carry the chute take off in the year 2020.

"We're looking forward to assessing the full parachute descent sequence in the upcoming high-altitude tests," Blancquaert said.

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