In this image, two engineers are dwarfed by NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory’s parachute, which holds more air than a 3,000-square-foot house and is designed to survive loads in excess of 36,000 kilograms (80,000 pounds). The parachute, built by Pioneer Aerospace, South Windsor, Conn., has 80 suspension lines, measures more than 65 feet in length, and opens to a diameter of nearly 55 feet. It is the largest disk-gap-band parachute ever built and is shown here inflated in the test section with only about 12.5 feet of clearance to both the floor and ceiling of the world’s largest wind tunnel at National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex. The parachute is attached to a launch arm mounted on a swivel-base that allows the test item to pitch and yaw under simulated conditions of subsonic entry into the Martian atmosphere.
All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.