NASA’s very own flying saucer lands in a test of technology to visit Mars.
After a successful launch high into Earth’s atmosphere by balloon, the flying saucer made a splash into the Pacific Ocean to complete a series of tests of technology that is hoped will be used to ultimately land something on
Mars. This $150m (£88m) flight aimed to provide more information about how several pieces of technology might function under the pressures of space and Mars.
Due to high winds the test had been postponed 6 times before eventually it was given the go ahead to test on Saturday. High winds were especially dangerous for this test because of the balloon that was used to transport the flying saucer shaped vehicle high into the atmosphere, high winds could cause it to inadvertently intrude upon no-fly zones and veer entirely off-target.
The vehicle was launched from Kauai, one of the Hawaiian islands, at 11:40am and was transported via balloon to high over the Pacific Ocean. Once in position the craft was detached and its parachute deployed to slow its descent. The parachute is 110 feet in diameter and specifically designed to function with heavier crafts than others and potentially with astronauts in the future. While the parachute didn’t deploy to 100% of its ability, a Nasa engineer said after the test that it was considered a success.
People from around the world were frantically keeping track of the test and the craft itself throughout the duration, thanks to a number of cameras positioned to stream everything in real-time via the internet. The footage was low-resolution, which caused it to be somewhat difficult to follow the progress sometimes, but the reaction from social media has been very positive. Various analysis posts and discussion threads have popped up on websites from around the world, some even attracting the attention of experts in this field of science.