NASA/JPL-Caltech

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.

Soon we'll be testing the rocket-powered, saucer-shaped #LDSD. Learn more Mar 31 at noon ET: http://t.co/8ZHUI8P6Gw pic.twitter.com/xq3UjIzrqv — NASA (@NASA) March 29, 2015

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,

The LDSD crosscutting demonstration mission will test breakthrough technologies that will enable large payloads to be safely landed on the surface of Mars, or other planetary bodies with atmospheres, including Earth. The technologies will not only enable landing of larger payloads on Mars, but also allow access to much more of the planet's surface by enabling landings at higher-altitude sites.

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.

Citations: Nasa prepares to test its flying saucer (Daily Mail), NASA Will Test Revolutionary Flying Saucer Spacecraft This Summer (The Huffington Post)