Early in March the European Space Agency successfully completed the first of a series of parachute tests for its 2020 ExoMars rover mission.
The focus of the latest test, conducted in sub-zero conditions in Kiruna, Sweden earlier this month, was the 35 m-diameter second main parachute. The test demonstrated the deployment and inflation of the parachute with its 112 lines connected to a drop test vehicle, via the deployment of a smaller 4.8 m-wide pilot chute.
This test only tested the parachutes deployment system. They still need to do this test at high altitudes to duplicate Mars’ conditions using high-altitude balloons.
When ExoMars reaches Mars, the parachute will act to slow the spacecraft down during descent. For the actual landing, they will be using systems designed and built by the Russians.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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