When NASA sends its Mars 2020 rover to the red planet in just a few more years, it'll utilize a parachute to land on the Martian surface safely. NASA recently tested the very same supersonic parachute it will use on the Mars 2020 mission when the time comes.
This high-definition video footage outlines how the Mars 2020 supersonic parachute system works from the beginning to the end. After sending the parachute system into a high altitude, similar to where the Mars 2020 payload would be when entering the Martian atmosphere, the parachute deploys.
The nylon and Kevlar-reinforced parachute system blasts out of the back of the payload at more than 100 miles per hour before expanding at 1.8x the speed of sound. By the time full inflation occurs, the parachute generates more than 35,000 pounds of drag force to slow the falling payload as it enters the atmosphere.
The footage will give engineers a way to look for potential flaws in the system, and improve them as necessary. As NASA notes, this is just one of several tests meant to ensure the proper operation of the Mars 2020 mission.