NASA will test a new small steerable parachute

While ESA was testing a new landing module dedicated to heavy loads in dense atmospheres, NASA is preparing to test a very small parachute.

NASA will shortly test a small parachute whose aim will be to help the satellites and loads put into orbit to return on Earth without being destroyed when they enter the atmosphere.

One of these parachutes, called Exo-Brake, was slipped into the Japanese module Kounotori which is currently docked to the ISS. At the beginning of 2017, NASA will test its parachute whose design opts for a cross shape, it will unfold itself at the rear of the loads which it must ensure the controlled fall to the Earth. Its opening should increase the drag of the connected module when it leaves Earth orbit.

The parachute can be remotely controlled to guide it in its descent phase in order to bring it to an ideal point for a trouble-free recovery, or more broadly to avoid seeing satellites land in populated areas.

The technology deployed by NASA is partly supported by the Intel Edison microprocessor. The set is part of TechEdSat-5 program (Technology Education). If the tests are successful, NASA will consider producing larger versions in order to land larger loads, especially on Mars.

Note that to date, it remains complex for the space agencies to pose very heavy loads on Mars whose the density of the atmosphere is very low. Without the possibility of sending heavy structures without damage, any mission of colonization or advanced scientific research remains very limited.

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