Parachute from Curiosity Flapping in the Martian Breeze

MSL paracute

MSL decent parachute as it flaps in the breeze.
Image Credit NASA/JPL

File this under not so scientific but kind of cool. These images show the Mars Science Laboratory parachute from the vantage point of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as it passed overhead.  There are 7 pictures taken in this sequence. You can clearly see how the wind is moving the parachute of the MSL spacecraft. This chute now lays on the ground where it landed when it was detached from the complex yet successful sky crane landing sequence on Aug. 5, 2012. The length of the parachute, including the lines, is about 165 feet (or 50 meters). The two and a half billion dollar Mars Science Lab Curiosity mission has returned wealth of images and scientific data since landing. Including chemical analysis of rock drill samples and confirmation that Mars could have once supported life.

The decent phase of the landing was also captured in pictures as it happened by MRO when the parachute was fully deployed slowing the craft for landing. Fully open it had a diameter of 51 feet.

Details of MRO and the HiRISE instrument that captured these images can be found at the JLP site.


About the author

Recipient of many prestigious NASA Awards including the Exceptional Public Service Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award. Experience includes working for NASA, as a contractor, in satellite design, construction and operations. Expert in the satellite operations concepts and ground systems including command, control, and science data processing.