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Question about Phoenix landing with parachute

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posted on May, 27 2008 @ 03:06 PM
I am looking at these photos that come from the surface of Mars and I start wondering what kind of atmosophere does this planet have that would allow a parachute to be used for landing.

According to Wiki:

The atmosphere of Mars is relatively thin, and the atmospheric pressure on the surface varies from around 30 Pa (0.03 kPa) on Olympus Mons's peak to over 1155 Pa (1.155 kPa) in the depths of Hellas Planitia, with a mean surface level pressure of 600 Pa (0.6 kPa), compared to Earth's 101.3 kPa. However, the scale height of the atmosphere is about 11 km, somewhat higher than Earth's 6 km. The atmosphere on Mars consists of 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and contains traces of oxygen, water, and methane.

Parachutes operate on drag with the atmosphere to slow the object down so how can this possibly be enough drag to slow it down enough to land safely?

Does anyone out there have any additional information on this?

Just curious, that is all.

posted on May, 27 2008 @ 03:56 PM
According to their mission brief, the parachutes were deployed as a first measure to slow the craft using drag but Mars' atmosphere is too thin to properly slow the lander for impact. Boosters were then fired and a gyro-stabilizer was used to slow the craft to a decent of 5 mph for the landing. Hope that helps.


posted on May, 27 2008 @ 04:22 PM
As Sagitaurus said, the landing was softened through the use of rockets, not the parachute; the parachute only slowed it down from the supersonic speed the lander had after it entered Mars' atmosphere. In fact, the parachute was cut away from the lander at an altitude of 1000 meters, and the lander was free to fall on its own, being slowed by 12 small rocket thrusters.

Here's an animation of the landing in real time (with actual footage from mission control cut into it). You can see how the lander separated from the parachute and backshell:

[edit on 5/27/2008 by Soylent Green Is People]

posted on May, 28 2008 @ 07:30 AM
Thank to all for the information.

This is quite an impressive animation.


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