back to article Watch closely as NASA deploys the world's biggest parachute at supersonic speeds

NASA engineers have launched a gigantic parachute as big as a house at record speed to prepare for its Mars 2020 mission. The object, dubbed ASPIRE (Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiments), unfolded from a small cylinder to a massive parachute, weighing over 80 kilograms (180 pounds), in just four-tenths …

  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Pint

    Impressive

    3.11375 kiloNorrises of force

    More seriously, great work from NASA

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Impressive

      Absolutely! And if I may be pardoned a small pun, nice to see them slowing up progress significantly.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good news

    More great science will soon be done on our sister planet, work which will certainly increase our knowledge of planetary formation and sustaining life elsewhere than Earth.

    Exciting times.

    1. FireBurn

      Re: Good news

      Surely Venus is our sister planet? Mars is more like our little brother

      Maybe we should be concentrating on terraforming Venus, as that technology might be vital for earth survival in the future

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: Good news

        Good news w Venus is the atmosphere is crazy already one can burn petroleum like its the 80's! CO2?

        No worries, the atmosphere is something like 96.5pct CO2. 150ppm sulfur dioxide. Sulfuric acid clouds. Kind of like the rust belt town I grew up in, just slightly more badass.

        Now if we can somehow do nuke-powered carbon sinks... one wonders...

        1. Richard Boyce

          Re: Good news

          If we deployed a large sunshade near Venus, large enough to put the whole planet into shadow, the planet would start to cool and begin absorbing CO2 by chemical weathering. After some millions years, maybe even Earth-like tectonics may begin. Teraforming Venus is definitely a long-term project.

  3. Symon Silver badge
    Headmaster

    "as big as a size of a house"

    Quite a bigly sized parachute then! Can the size of something have a size? How many sizes can a house have? What's the size of one hand clapping? IGMC

  4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Bloody hell!

    That's impressive. I pack my own chute, but I'd hate to see it deploy at mach 2...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bloody hell!

      If you were skydiving and doing mach 2 I doubt you would be live to see it open, though Felix Baumgartner did get to fall at 833mph, so over mach 1.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Bloody hell!

        Reserve chute for a paraglider. I usually amble around at thirty to fifty kph... if it gets to mach 2 something has seriously gone wrong!

  5. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Astounding

    They're relying on stitching bits of woven thread together 5000 years after the technique was invented - what's good enough for an Trojan warrior's skirt appears still good enough for a supersonic, inter-planetary lander's parachute. However I admit techniques and materials have probably been refined over the years ... I don't believe "Artemis, what do you think of my latest fully over-locked, carbon-Kevlar defensive battle kilt?" would have been an example of usage in a Trojan dictionary. :-)

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Astounding

      "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades

      or loose the cords of Orion?"

    2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: Astounding

      If you watch the video carefully, in the multi-screen view, you can see that the 'chute as a rip!

      1. agurney

        Re: Astounding

        If you watch the video carefully, in the multi-screen view, you can see that the 'chute as a rip!

        The multi-screen view shows the tests from the 1970s.

      2. DCL

        Re: Astounding

        They are not rips, they are holes to let air pass through. If you don't the force would be too great and the parachute would billow or rip. You still need air to flow through the parachute for it to keep its form, otherwise the drag coefficient is reduced as air compresses in the canopy, and more air will just divert around this area rather than going through the parachute. Its far more complicated than this in reality.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Astounding

      "what's good enough for an Trojan warrior's skirt appears still good enough for a supersonic, inter-planetary lander's parachute"

      Admittedly there are a lot more stitches in this than the aforementioned kilt

  6. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    I like the PPE the technician is wearing

    Official Range Safety Certified, Gov't issue ... flip flops?

    Having worked on similar ranges and dealing with the Range Safety mafia I salute our hero's refusal to wear the fully enclosed, steel toed, multi-kilogram, nearly non-removable foot anchors that are required - even at sea state zero in Virginia heat and humidity.

    I might recommend a trip to a nearby West Marine store for a decent pair of boat shoes though.

    1. southen bastard

      Re: I like the PPE the technician is wearing

      Try wearing your PPE in many places,

      I work in a place called Groute Ilund,

      Day time temps exceed 38. c 85-95 percent humidity

      night time gets down to a cool 32. c humidity stays about same,

      and there's hotter places over west.

      come to Oz and fry your nuts in your pants!

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: I like the PPE the technician is wearing

        38Deg with humidity. I think you need to start drinking immediately!

        Would love to go to Oz; colleagues who have worked there have enjoyed the country and its people immensely.

  7. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Coat

    Technora - sounds familiar?

    Oh do you mean Tech Nora? She's the woman in the stockings in the server room...

    1. imanidiot Silver badge
      Coat

      You sure that's not Tech Norbert in the stockings?

      1. Spherical Cow

        Norbert Seriously, anyone can choose to wear stockings.

  8. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Bit Late?

    If it's landing on Mars in 28 months time isn't this all a bit last minute? I can't imagine there'd have been much time before launch to go back to the drawing board if it hadn't worked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bit Late?

      "I can't imagine there'd have been much time before launch to go back to the drawing board if it hadn't worked."

      Deadlines focus the mind amazingly well.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. as big as a size of a house

    Please note that the proper scientific unit of volume / size s [one] London double-decker bus. Should volume (?) exceed 1 DD, please stack them accordingly to achieve expected wow-splash factor of 2 DD/1.3 OSSP (2 you-know-whats dropped into a 1.3 olympic-sized swimming pools).

    ...

    What d'you mean, "What height", how should I know?! I suppose sufficient height to reach the terminal speed two ducks would achieve when thrown overboard from the abovementioned bus travelling at the speed of 785 DD at an altitude of 20M BG (beer glasses) stacked on top of each other! Roughly.

    1. Borg.King
      Coat

      Re: re. as big as a size of a house

      Are they spherical ducks in a vacuum?

      1. Spherical Cow

        Re: re. as big as a size of a house

        Spherical ducks? Whoever heard of such nonsense!

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: re. as big as a size of a house

      "Please note that the proper scientific unit of volume..."

      And some miserable twat downvoted you :D :D

  10. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    They could have chosen a better backronym

    Parachute

    Attitude

    Research

    Impact

    Stoppage

    (Just throwin' that out there)

  11. Doctor Evil

    Empathy

    "The probe spiralled at a faster rate than expected, causing the computers onboard to measure the wrong altitude and the parachute was fired prematurely."

    I can certainly empathize with this. Firing prematurely rarely turns out well ...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Empathy

      "I can certainly empathize with this. Firing prematurely rarely turns out well "

      The results may also be nicknamed "Splatterelli" (Just don't say it too loudly around the cow-orkers who were involved in building it - they're still a bit tetchy)

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Empathy

      "I can certainly empathize with this. Firing prematurely rarely turns out well "

      Yup. And it usually results in a crash and burn.

    3. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

      Re: Empathy

      Aye! But at least I got to launch...

  12. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Practice Jumps

    Not always a good idea?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Practice Jumps

      For sale, low mileage..

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dsy4FQuOUNQ

      Kinda what NASA wants to avoid, and hopefully will :)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With parachutes, timing is everything

    just ask the Marines: ""Everything worked as it was supposed to, except it went out early."

    https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/10/24/army-accidentally-drops-humvee-c-17-over-fort-bragg.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: With parachutes, timing is everything

      My apologies to the Marines...it was the Army.

      (Due to recent changes in my favorite tech site, cookies are handled a bit differently so I am unabe to append my comments)

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: With parachutes, timing is everything

        Accidently? How'd you know the Army wasn't aiming at the Marines?

        (Army chutes come in 3 sizes, L, M and 'I hope you had a big breakfast soldier, or it's a long march back to the LZ')

  14. the Jim bloke Bronze badge

    new-fangled parachutes will degrade the efficiency..

    of the previously favoured litho-braking technique.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019