35 meter span: tests with giant parachute to enable landings on Mars!

In politics, there are currently massive tensions between Russia and the countries of the European Union. After the attempted murder of former double agent Sergei Skripal, numerous diplomats were expelled. At the level of space research, however, cooperation continues to function. For example, the European Space Agency ESA and its Russian counterpart Roskosmos want to search for life on the red planet in the context of the project ExoMars. That’s why two years ago a probe was put into orbit on Mars. However, the planned landing of a module on the surface failed. To prevent this from happening, tests were carried out in Scandinavia with a giant parachute.

Photo: ESA

The test in Kiruna was very successful

It has a wingspan of 35 meters, making it the largest landing screen ever used on a Mars mission. In the vicinity of the city of Kiruna, a helicopter brought the huge glider together with a 500 kilogram capsule to a height of 1,200 meters. Then everything went according to plan: The parachute opened in the air and sailed safely to the ground. “It was a very exciting moment to see how this huge parachute unfolded and brought the test module safely to the snow-covered ground of Kiruna,” said Thierry Blancquaert from ESA on the successful test run. During the flight, various sensors were also used, which collected numerous data. These should be used to uncover further possibilities for improvement.

Below the surface should be searched for life

In a next test, the parachute will then be brought to a height of 28 kilometers. There, the atmospheric pressure is much lower – which roughly corresponds to the conditions on Mars. The actual mission on the red planet is scheduled for the summer of 2020. Accordingly, the rocket would be in March 2021 at the finish. The objective of the mission is quite interesting: A research module is to drill holes in the Martian surface and look for signs of life on the inside. It is quite conceivable that there exist certain life forms that protect themselves from the strong radioactive radiation on the surface. On the other hand, the project has nothing to do with the plans for a human Martian colony