NASA Will Test A Real-Life 'Flying Saucer' To Aid In Its Mars Mission
The key to touching down on Mars might just be in the shape of a legendary science-fiction spaceship: a flying saucer.
According to the Huffington Post, the devices currently used to land large spacecraft require heavy and expensive braking thrusters.
But NASA's new Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) could potentially eliminate the cost and hassle of such equipment.
The LDSD contains a doughnut-shaped parachute along with an inflatable exterior to increase air resistance, also known as drag.
The 15-foot-wide, 7,000-pound air brake is designed to nullify extremely thin atmospheres like that on Mars, Daily Mail reports.
A test from last June showed the LDSD safely land a capsule into open water after being launched over 30 miles into the sky.
The LDSD will undergo a spin test tomorrow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to be live-streamed on Ustream.
NASA said in a written statement,
It will then be transported to the Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, HI, to be sent just outside Earth's orbit in June before coming back down to land.
Four tests will have taken place before the LDSD is approved for manned Mars missions.