NASA to launch a saucer-shaped vehicle to test giant Mars parachute concept

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If the weather will be favourable NASA plans to simulate the thin Martian air high in Earth’s atmosphere on Tuesday. Viewers worldwide will be able to see the vehicle as it drops down to Earth thanks to cameras which are rigged on the vehicle and which stream the content so that anyone with an internet connection can view it.

The idea to land astronauts and massive payloads safely and easily to Mars pre-dates the existence of the space agency. In the past scientists even considered the idea of having a winged spacecraft that would somehow mange to land on MArs surface similar to how a plane lands in airports here on Earth. That idea did however turn out to be not feasible according to space historians.

The operations will begin in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility. A high-flying balloon will carry the disc shaped vehicle which will be dropped over the Pacific. The plan is to accelerate the device to Mach 4 and bring it to 34 miles where, according to scientists, Earth’s environment at this altitude is similar to the thin atmosphere on Mars.

The project is considered high-risk, high-reward effort. No wonder project manager Mark Adler of NASA had the following to comment: “As long as I get data, I’ll be very happy,”

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