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Media Invited to Interview Entry, Descent & Landing Experts as Mars 2020 is Launched

Press Release From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The next step in Martian exploration starts this summer when the Perseverance rover launches July 30, 2020. The Mars 2020 mission seeks to answer key astrobiology questions about the potential for life on Mars and signs of habitable conditions from Mars' ancient past. Researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center made significant contributions to the mission.

NASA Langley contributions include entry, descent and landing simulations; Mars Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation (MEDLI) 2; parachute testing; and testing of the first Martian helicopter, Ingenuity. Subject matter experts who worked on technology in support of the Mars 2020 mission are available for interviews.

Since the early Viking missions, NASA Langley has led the agency for entry, descent and landing (EDL) simulations. Data gathered during the six-month flight allows the team of experts to adjust models to current conditions, replacing estimates in the process, and adjust the trajectory of the flight up until entering the Martian atmosphere.

As a follow on to MEDLI, MEDLI2 will collect data during the entry through the planet's atmosphere to enable improved designs of future Mars entry systems for both robotic and crewed missions. Knowledge gathered here can be extended to future vehicles used for other outer space destinations such as Venus, Titan, and the gas giants.

The Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) mission ran the experiments used to test the Mars mission parachute design. In October 2018, a Black Brant IX sounding rocket deployed a 180-pound parachute within four-tenths of a second. It remains the fastest inflation in history of a parachute with a peak load of almost 70,000 pounds of force. Langley contributed to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's parachute-testing series.

An interplanetary first will occur on this mission: Ingenuity, the first Martian Helicopter, will take flight. This technology demonstration aims to expand exploration of planets using an aerial dimension, potentially opening previously unreached areas for investigation and enabling faster reconnaissance for the benefit of future rovers. Ingenuity will be able to perform 90-second flights at a height of 16 feet.

Media wishing to speak to subject matter experts should contact Kristyn Damadeo at 757-864-1090 or kristyn.damadeo@nasa.gov or Joseph Atkinson at 757-755-5375 or joseph.s.atkinson@nasa.gov.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

For more information about the Perseverance rover:

https://www.nasa.gov/perseverance

To learn more about the Mars 2020 mission:

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

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