This Is How NASA Tests Its Spacecraft-Saving Parachutes

This Is How NASA Tests Its Spacecraft-Saving Parachutes

How do you test the parachutes that will save spacecraft as they tumble towards the surface of a planet from the reaches of space? In the world's largest wind tunnel, of course.

This is a view inside the giant wind tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center (which might be the biggest, but not necessarily the prettiest). Measuring 24m tall and 37m wide, here it's being used to test the parachute that will be used to NASA's InSight mission to Mars. Insight — Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — will set off to Mars in March 2016 and (hopefully) touch down on Mars September 2016. Fortunately, it looks like the landing should be a soft one. [NASA]

Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin

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