NASA says it will test a parachute for possible future missions to Mars from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Tuesday, March 27. Live coverage of the test is scheduled to begin at 10:15 UTC (6:15 a.m. EDT; translate UTC to your time) on the Wallops Ustream site.
Landing on Mars is difficult and not always successful. Well-designed advance testing helps. An ambitious NASA Mars rover mission set to launch in 2020 will rely on a special parachute to slow the spacecraft down as it enters the Martian atmosphere at over 12,000 mph (5.4 km per second).
As a preview, here’s a video about the first ASPIRE test on October 4, 2017:
The launch window for the 58-foot-tall (17.8-meter-tall) Terrier-Black Brant IX suborbital sounding rocket is from 10:45 to 14:15 UTC (6:45 to 10:15 a.m. EDT).
The payload carrying the test parachute is expected to reach an altitude of 32 miles (51 km) approximately two minutes into the flight. The payload will splash-down in the Atlantic Ocean 40 miles (64 km) from Wallops Island and will be recovered and returned to Wallops for data retrieval and inspection.
Backup launch days are March 28 to April 10.
Launch updates will be available via Wallops Facebook and via @NASA_Wallops on Twitter. NASA said there’s also a What’s Up at Wallops app available for smartphones, which contains information on the launch, as well as a compass showing the precise direction for launch viewing.
Bottom line: NASA will provide live coverage of the ASPIRE 2 launch on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Live coverage is scheduled to begin at 10:15 UTC (6:15 a.m. EDT; translate UTC to your time) on the Wallops Ustream site.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded 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.