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Drop Tests of Phoenix Parachute and Radar
parachute test

This video shows testing of two systems that are critical for NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander to get through the Martian atmosphere and safely onto the ground on May 25.

The first scene is at a parachute drop test near Boise, Idaho, in October 2006. Phoenix uses a "disk-gap-band" type of parachute, referring to two fabric components -- a central disk and a cylindrical band -- separated by a gap. Engineers used a dart-like weight for the drop testing in Idaho. On the Phoenix spacecraft, the parachute is attached the upper portion of a protective shell around the lander.

The second part of the video shows drop testing of the radar system for Phoenix. Two participants in the testing at Dryden Flight Research Center in April 2007 steady a drop weight containing a landing radar and support electronics as it is lifted by a helicopter. The drop weight is tethered to a helicopter out of the scene. For this testing, the radar was lowered at speeds simulating the descent of the Phoenix lander during the final minutes before landing.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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