LDSD: NASA's Flying Saucer
Today is World UFO Day, and if you saw a "flying saucer" a couple weeks ago in the skies over Hawaii, don't worry, it wasn't a UFO, it was a test flight of NASA's next generation spacecraft. The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)
conducted its second test on June 8th, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
The inflatable re-entry vehicle’s purpose is to aid in the eventual safe landing of larger payloads on the Martian surface. As part of the June 8th's test flight -- which launched at 7:45am HST, the LDSD was floated to a height of 120,000 feet (37 kilometers) by a giant balloon before it successfully separated as planned at 11:35am HST. Soon after separating, an onboard rocket took the craft to an altitude of 180,000 feet, where the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD)
-- the first braking technology of its kind -- deployed near Mach 3 speeds at 11:37am.
"Developing and demonstrating entry, descent and landing technologies such as supersonic decelerators is critical to enabling our journey to Mars," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The technologies tested on LDSD are giving us data and insight into the capabilities we’ll need to land more mass than we currently can on Mars, which will enable more capable robotic missions, as well as human precursor missions to the Red Planet."
Only fourteen seconds after SIAD inflation, a 100 foot wide parachute -- the largest supersonic parachute ever flown -- was released. This parachute is more than double the surface area of the parachute utilized to slow down Curiosity's Martian descent in August of 2012. However, the parachute began to generate large amounts of drag, and ultimately a tear appeared in the canopy at about the time it was fully inflated.
"Early indications are that we got what we came for, new and actionable data on our parachute design," said Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "At present, our data is in the form of low-resolution video and some other nuggets of data which were downlinked in real-time. But this will soon change when our test vehicle makes port, and we have the opportunity to inspect the ultra-high resolution, high-speed imagery and other comprehensive information carried in the memory cards on board our saucer."Sources:1.
LDSD Mars Landing Technology Flight Testhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q5SQBC_e642.
NASA's LDSD Project Completes Second Experimental Test Flighthttp://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasas-ldsd-project-completes-second-experimental-test-flight3.
LDSD test of Mars landing technology suffers chute failurehttp://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/06/nasa-ldsd-test-mars-landing-tech/ #NASA #Penny4NASA #LDSD #UFODay