NOTE NEW TIME FOR BROADCAST: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT (13:30 CDT, 18:30 UTC) on March 31, 2015.
In June 2015, NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project will fly its rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into near-space from the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The public is invited to tune in to an hour-long live, interactive video broadcast from the gallery above a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where this near-space experimental test vehicle is being prepared for shipment to Hawaii. The event will be streamed live on www.ustream.tv/NASAJPL2 on March 31, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT (1830 to 1930 UTC; translate to your time zone here).
During the broadcast, the 15-foot-wide, 7,000-pound vehicle is expected to be undergoing a spin-table test.
JPL’s Gay Hill will host the program while LDSD team members will answer questions submitted to the Ustream chat box or via Twitter using the #AskNASA hashtag.
NASA said in a release:
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.
More information about the LDSD space technology demonstration mission is online at: /mission_pages/tdm/ldsd
The LDSD mission is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in future missions. NASA’s technology investments provide cutting-edge solutions for our nation’s future. For more information about the directorate, visit: /spacetech
Bottom line: NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator is a saucer-shaped vehicle designed to hold equipment for landing large payloads on Mars.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.