Image of the Day: July 2014

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Image of the Day

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Above:NASA successfully launched its Low-Density Supersonic…Read More »

Decelerator (LDSD) — a flying saucer-shaped vehicle that could one day be used to help humans land on Mars — on Saturday (June 28) over the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range in Hawaii.

The flight was designed to test equipment — including a massive 100-foot-wide (30.5 meters) parachute — that could be used to slow a heavy spacecraft as it descends through Mars' atmosphere. During the weekend test, a high-altitude balloon carried the LDSD vehicle to an altitude of 23 miles (37 kilometers), before dropping it. The vehicle's onboard rocket motor fired according to plan, but NASA engineers say the chute inflated but did not deploy correctly.

Still, agency officials say the test flight was a success. "The test vehicle worked beautifully, and we met all of our flight objectives," Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. "We have recovered all the vehicle hardware and data records and will be able to apply all of the lessons learned from this information to our future flights."

In this photo, the saucer-shaped test vehicle is being lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel in the Pacific Ocean. [Related: 7 Everyday Things that Happen Strangely In Space]   Less «
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