JPL Engineer explains how they are testing the next generation of Mars parachutes in the video “LDSD: We Brake for Mars”
Source: NASA JPL
I recently had the amazing opportunity to travel to JPL to work on an experiment built and designed by students at my college that is now scheduled to be taken to the ISS in October on Orbital 3. During my stay I was taken to one of the high bays where they had a newly designed heat shield that will work in conjunction with these parachutes. The heat shield features a skirt that deploys after the unit breaches the Martian atmosphere which expands to nearly 3 times the diameter of the heat shield itself. The engineers were preparing to test the skirt by launching the heat shield on a single stage rocket booster to an altitude where our atmosphere is similar to the Martian atmosphere and arcing it over on a ballistic trajectory until the skirt deploys and its performance can be tested. The reason for this skirt is seen in the ripped parachute, and the fact that the next Mars mission will be bigger than ever.