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NASA Releases Footage of "Flying Saucer" Braking Test, Declares Success

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the you-can-have-mars-I'll-stay-here dept.

Mars 55

According to the AP, in a story carried by the San Jose Mercury News, NASA engineers insisted Friday that a test of a vehicle they hope to one day use on Mars achieved most of its objectives, despite a parachute that virtually disintegrated the moment it deployed. The engineers laid out at a news conference what they've learned in the six weeks since the $150 million high-altitude test of a vehicle that's designed to bring spacecraft -- and eventually astronauts -- safely to Mars. Engineers said they achieved the main objective: getting a flying saucer-shaped craft to 190,000 feet above the Earth at more than four times the speed of sound under test conditions that matched the Martian atmosphere. Ars Technica has (beautiful, high-speed, high-definition) video of the test that shows the parachute tearing itself apart, as well as the many parts that went as planned.

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Sure would love (0)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 3 months ago | (#47639599)

to be the first poster on Mars.

Re:Sure would love (0)

peragrin (659227) | about 3 months ago | (#47639781)

The ping times though would ensure you never actually got First Post though.

Besides by that point Slashdot beta would running full time, and Slashdot beta has user login timeouts in milliseconds. Or maybe that is just slashdot mobile.

Either way I use classic on all devices. it is the only way I can remain logged in for more than 5 seconds.

Re:Sure would love (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47639821)

Fortunately, any editor of an online posting site approaching the significance of /. would be able to see the folly of Beta.

Somebody's baby didn't pan out.

Feelings were hurt. That was yesterday. We've moved on.

Re:Sure would love (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47642683)

Actually I got shunted to the nigh-unusable Beta just a few weeks ago, just when I was beginning to think it would finally be safe to restore my signature. Clearly the baby has not yet been justifiably incinerated.

Re:Sure would love (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639825)

No one cares.

i brake for flying saucers (3, Funny)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 3 months ago | (#47639623)

bumper sticker, y'know.

In Soviet Russia... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639685)

flying saucers brake for you!

And evidently in Hawaii as well.

Ars Technica has (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639661)

a link to YouTube, which has a video of the test.

Re:Ars Technica has (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 3 months ago | (#47639683)

They didn't want to get slashdotted

Re:Ars Technica has (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about 3 months ago | (#47639907)

Slashdotting doesn't really happen anymore.

Re:Ars Technica has (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47642111)

Now its the reddit "hug of death". Fucking hipsters.

Keep believing, nerds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639693)

no one's going to Mars. Haha, remember when we thought Venus was a lush tropical paradise, Mars had canals and the Galaxy was the universe?

Hoo boy, such naiveté!!!

Good thing that people don't believe this crap anymore!

Re:Keep believing, nerds (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47639845)

Believing is what keeps me alive.

Things will get better.

We're getting smarter and more advanced almost fast enough to save ourselves, from ourselves.... all we need to do is pick up the pace a bit.

Re:Keep believing, nerds (3, Funny)

CrashPoint (564165) | about 3 months ago | (#47640209)

Believing is what keeps me alive.

I'm no doctor, but I think you may be undervaluing the contributions of food and oxygen.

Re:Keep believing, nerds (2)

Chas (5144) | about 3 months ago | (#47640401)

You should probably NEVER watch Idiocracy [wikipedia.org] then.

Re:Keep believing, nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47640505)

That's right, but what's Mars got to do with it?

remember when (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 3 months ago | (#47640115)

"Mars had canals and the Galaxy was the universe?"

Nobody on slashdot is that old
Hubble proved that other galaxies were other galaxies in the 1920's

Re:remember when (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47640515)

But the space fantasies started at that time too. The more outlandish ones died mercifully, I just wonder why anyone would still cling to the space fantasies at all anymore.

Re:remember when (3, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47642765)

Because the human species thrives in the presence of new frontiers - it gives the established societies a release valve so that the most ardent malcontents don't cause trouble at home, and gives the malcontents at least the dream of a better life out from under the thumb of the established powers.

For the past couple centuries we've been living in a world without significant frontiers, and faced with the ever-increasing abuse of authoritarian power structures. We dream of far-off horizons because though even mere survival would be a struggle, it would be a struggle with a chance of freedom and a better life, whereas at home the only realistic option is to accept your ever-shrinking piece of the pie as the powerful steadily consolidate wealth and power, exploiting it mercilessly at the expense of anyone who happens to be in their path. Once the powerful have cemented their position the only escape at home seems to be bloody revolution with little chance of success, not something most people would wish to dream of.

Re:Keep believing, nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47640665)

no one's going to Mars. Haha, remember when we thought Venus was a lush tropical paradise, Mars had canals and the Galaxy was the universe?

Hoo boy, such naiveté!!!

Good thing that people don't believe this crap anymore!

Don't Stop Believing! [youtube.com]

Re:Keep believing, nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47641757)

Are you saying that NASA hasn't landed probes on Mars? Or that they don't intend to send more missions there, or that an inflatable heat-shield won't help them increase payloads? Or are you saying they faked this test, that it's all a hoax? What exactly is there to be "believed" here?

Because otherwise your comment has no relationship to the subject of the article. Just the same repetitive automatic monomaniacal rant you spew on every thread even vaguely relating to space.

You add nothing to topic, contribute nothing to the discussion. You are pus in a wound.

Re:Keep believing, nerds (1)

demonrob (1001871) | about 2 months ago | (#47644901)

I'm sure we can find a minister in the Australian government who does.

The Parachute Will Work (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639703)

The parachute that brought the latest rover to Mars also disintegrated during testing. However NASA proceeded with the design knowing that the atmosphere on Mars is not nearly as dense as it is on Earth. Is the disintegration of the parachute actually considered by NASA to be a failure, or is this article just fishing for clicks with sensationalist titles?

Re:The Parachute Will Work (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#47639759)

The parachute that brought the latest rover to Mars also disintegrated during testing. However NASA proceeded with the design knowing that the atmosphere on Mars is not nearly as dense as it is on Earth. Is the disintegration of the parachute actually considered by NASA to be a failure, or is this article just fishing for clicks with sensationalist titles?

Seeing as the parachute is the main device for terminal slowing, failure of the parachute only gets you to the 'pieces parts' stage. Great if you're K'Biel and lamenting the recent closure of the local Plasma Shack. Otherwise, not so much.

Re:The Parachute Will Work (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639983)

Nobody had ever tested a big parachute at supersonic speeds at "high-altitude-on-mars-like" atmospheric density (that's why it was done at 180,000 ft..). There's been a huge number of questions about how these things deploy (or not, as the video shows), and since there aren't any wind tunnels around that run at 1 torr at supersonic speeds.. Gotta do the test.

This is also why the new capsule designs (Orion, MPCV, etc.) look like Mercury/Gemini/Apollo... they did (really expensive) testing of various body shapes back in the 60s, and everyone wants to use the same data today.

There are modeling codes for the capsule kind of application..although.. you're trusting in a model of a fairly non-linear and poorly understood problem.. hypersonic flow.. you're well beyond using Bernoulli here.

Re:The Parachute Will Work (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#47640077)

Parachutes can't slow things down much on Mars anyway which is why this is a far lesser deal than if it was designed to land on Earth. There's a nice bit on the website for the Xplane game about their Mars simulation stuff that describes it well. Their Mars flyer you can play with is like a U2 that steers like a cow and has to land at supersonic speed since parachutes can't do much to slow it down.

Re:The Parachute Will Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47644863)

yeah lets just pray it will work? it failed.

pay spacex to do the mars missions, so we can get someone back alive.

Re:The Parachute Will Work (5, Insightful)

pz (113803) | about 3 months ago | (#47639969)

I saw the live press release on nasa.tv (highly recommended). The principle scientists involved recognized the parachute failure, but emphasized that this is unknown territory, and the mission objectives -- which were to make an attempt and gather as much data as possible about that attempt -- were fully realized.

Yes, the parachute failed. The vehicle was going something like Mach 2 at the time, having successfully aerobraked from Mach 4.7. They got excellent video of the entire process, and only four days (or something like that) after the mission, already had revisions on the parachute in mind to prevent such failure.

This was the first of THREE planned tests. Was the mission successful this time? Absolutely not, if you expected to have a first time test succeed. But if you were looking to gather data on potential failure mechanisms, it was an overwhelming success.

And, it should be noted, the deceleration inflatable ring (which has some kitchy acronym) worked very well, and importantly, they got good data on the design and how much it deviated from perfection (1/8 of an inch deflection at Mach 4.7 ... I dare anyone to do that with rigid materials, let alone inflatables). And the blute (the droge which pulls out the main parachute) worked entirely as intended. The downside? The shape of the parachute apparently needs to be more rounded.

They are exploring entirely new territory. Who here really, really, thinks that every such testing and development mission is going to be successful? Anyone? Raise your hands, I want to see, because NASA would love to hire engineers (hell, screw NASA, *I'd* hire engineers) who have that level of talent. They're called experimental missions because the outcome is not known.

well said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47640167)

exactly..
it's an *experiment* because you don't know what's going to happen.

Otherwise, it's called a "problem set" or "homework".

Re:The Parachute Will Work (4, Interesting)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about 3 months ago | (#47640293)

The parachute that brought the latest rover to Mars also disintegrated during testing. However NASA proceeded with the design knowing that the atmosphere on Mars is not nearly as dense as it is on Earth.

They got it working in testing [youtube.com] after that initial failure - and even that failure provided extremely useful high-speed video [youtube.com] of its deployment.

Note the colossal wind tunnel. This latest, flying saucer tested parachute is way larger than that Curiosity parachute - so they've figured out a whole new testing regime. One that helpfully more closely matches conditions in the Martian atmosphere, too.

Falling not Flying Saucer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639729)

Correct me if I'm missing something, but from the Ars Technica article, it looks like the name is supposed to be "Falling saucer" not "Flying saucer."

Which would make sense as this is supposed to be simulating the lander modules not flying vehicles.

Re:Falling not Flying Saucer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639763)

For a very short while it was a flying saucer .... then it became a falling saucer for a lot longer

Re:Falling not Flying Saucer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639769)

"That's not flying!..that's just falling with style"

Units (5, Funny)

Rashdot (845549) | about 3 months ago | (#47639801)

190000 feet = 57912 meters.

Just helping NASA to prevent getting their units mixed up again.

Re:Units (1)

Unbeliever (35305) | about 3 months ago | (#47640471)

NASA didn't get the units mixed up. LockMart did.

Imperial news! (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 3 months ago | (#47639857)

Gimme a brake -- one that operates at the right meters per seconds squared...

Re:Imperial news! (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#47640941)

It's inches per fortnight, you insensitive clod!

Re:Imperial news! (1)

thygate (1590197) | about 2 months ago | (#47643113)

you mean furlongs per fortnight

Re:Imperial news! (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#47643785)

I mean rods to the hogshead and that's the way I like it.

But the parachute ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47639939)

Yes yes it was a great test. And as tests go even a total failure offers a learning exercise.

On the next "exercise" I would suggest that Admin. Bolden and his Equal-Opportunity-Admin. "what ever her name is or was"
be put into the saucer so that they can relay to JPL engineers the effects of smashing into the Pacific Ocean at Mack 4.3.

That would save NASA billions of dollars in FY16.

Ha ha

Interesting de-spin sequence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47640001)

Even being so high up, in a low density atmosphere, it didn't take much to de-spin the vehicle as they put it. That was pretty cool.

Re:Interesting de-spin sequence (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#47640945)

it didn't take much

How much were you expecting it to take?

Re:Interesting de-spin sequence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47643483)

I too expected less effect from the rocket due to less atmosphere to push against. I figured the burn would last a bit longer and that the rate of rotation would slowly come to a stop rather than it being nearly instantaneous.

Re:Interesting de-spin sequence (2)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#47641851)

Spinning and de-spinning a vehicle is primarily a function of the torque applied to the object's moment of inertia. Air friction doesn't become a big factor until you reach high rotational speeds (much higher than apparant from this video).

New program announcement: EARTH ONE (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47640085)

EARTH ONE is a simple program: stay on earth until you die. Unfortunately, no way has been figured out yet how to get you away from earth and back to earth. Therefore you will have to die there. Your possibility of being a reality-tv star is very low compared from mars, as the program is being conducted by lots of people, but apparently it also has some charm, as most of the most famous men of the last 100 years participated in that program.

Re:New program announcement: EARTH ONE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47643837)

EARTH ONE is a simple program: stay on earth until you die.

That's gonna have to work for most people.

Braking test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47640399)

Yep... it broke.... Mission Accomplished!

A round of applause is due for this. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47640729)

This is one of those extremely RARE moments when a government team has done something great for the taxpayers. They wanted to test Mars entry hardware at a scale too large to fit into any wind tunnel that could simulate Mars and SHOCKINGLY they did NOT propose spending a decade and billions of dollars building a new super-sized "Mars upper-atmosphere simulation facility". They also did NOT propose spending billions on a whole fleet of mars-bound EELV payloads to experiment with new hardware ideas in the actual martian upper-atmosphere. This team actually did something that still has me a bit stunned (NOT that it COULD be done but rather that government people chose to do it) - they designed a scheme to achieve the sim with a balloon, a solid rocket motor, and a borrowed US Navy test range. Assuming the next two tests in the series work as planned, this team will have a proven method of testing all sorts of space probe hardware (not just for Mars) very affordably right here on Earth. Tis saves time and money and will enable lots more innovation because more testing can fit within budgets and more risks can be taken.

Well Done!

Now if we could just get the other 99.99% of the government to act even slightly this responsibly and creatively...

Re:A round of applause is due for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47641251)

*tips fedora*

Re:A round of applause is due for this. (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47642875)

Not quite - they've come up with a way to test all sorts of probes designed to operate in very thin atmospheres at middling temperatures. Which is basically to say they've come up with a way to test Martian atmospheric craft on Earth. Which is great, but only useful for Mars. Pretty much everything else in the solar system has essentially no atmosphere at all, even Mercury and Europa make Mars's atmosphere look crushingly thick. The few other bodies with an atmosphere - Venus, Titan, and the gas giants, all have considerably denser atmospheres than Earth, and at very different temperatures.

um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47644225)

EVERY planet's atmosphere is thin at the top and what you seem to have missed that the earlier post did not is that this enables the testing of large objects at high speeds in thin upper atmospheres. This sort of tech would be handy for any probe that might want to skip/skim through the upper whisps of any planet's gasses for missions involving things like aerobraking. It obviosly cannot simulate deep dense atmosphere effects, but for plunging down into those you'd use smaller parachutes and such after diving through the upper layers and the smaller hardware can be tested in smaller existing earth-based facilities

Re:um (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47645109)

How many planets do you think there are?

If you're skimming a planet's atmosphere as part of orbital maneuvers you're almost certainly going to be quite happy using heat shields - the speeds are just too high for anything else. On Earth for example if you slow down anywhere near Mach 23 (LEO orbital speed) anywhere within the atmosphere then you're committed to landing. Venus would be about the same, and that speed would be far higher on the gas giants. So, this technology is unlikely to be useful for much beyond pre-landing maneuvers in thin atmospheres. Which means Mars. EVERY other atmosphere worth mentioning in the solar system is nice and thick.

This is nothing new..... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47641077)

This set was known since they started streetview.... Since then "do not be evil" is a motto which they carry out, but do not uphold themselfs!

Video not available outside of United States (1)

zwarte piet (1023413) | about 2 months ago | (#47641733)

*sigh*

Re:Video not available outside of United States (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47642181)

try this site? https://www.hidemyass.com/ [hidemyass.com] and insert URL
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