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NASA 'supersonic' parachute for Mars mission sets world record

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Not only did NASA successfully test a parachute slated for use during its Mars mission in 2020, it also broke a world record.

NASA set the record following a test of a parachute it plans to use to help the agency land a rover on Mars in February 2021.

After a payload detached from a 58-foot-tall rocket, sensors deployed a parachute made of nylon, Technora and Kevlar fibers. The parachute deploys once the payload hits a certain height and speed while falling. The chute, weighing 180 pounds, deployed in four-tenths of a second, the fastest inflation ever of a parachute that size.

“Mars 2020 will be carrying the heaviest payload yet to the surface of Mars, and like all our prior Mars missions, we only have one parachute and it has to work,” said John McNamee, project manager of the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. “The ASPIRE tests have shown in remarkable detail how our parachute will react when it is first deployed into a supersonic flow high above Mars.”

More: Hubble telescope is back to normal operations, NASA says

The testing was part of NASA’s ASPIRE project, or Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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