New ExoMars parachute for high altitude descent

The first main parachute of the ExoMars 2022 mission is on the ground following a dynamic extraction test using a compressed air powered NASA / JPL test rig. The lid of the parachute assembly is pulled at high speed along the suspended cable while the ends of the assembly are secured to the wall. When the release mechanism is activated, the parachute bag on the left side of the scene in this image is pulled away from the parachute at the target speed, mimicking the extraction on Mars. The image shows a parachute provided by Ares Cosmo in a test conducted in April 2021. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

A series of ground-based high-speed extraction tests confirms that the newly upgraded parachute and bag system is ready for high-altitude drop tests in early June. This is part of an important preparation to get the ExoMars 2022 mission on track for the next launch. window.

Tests conducted in California, USA using the NASA / JPL dynamic extraction test rig show that the new equipment developed by Airborne Systems is ready and confirm the parachute and bag changes provided by Arescosmo. Did.

In the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars mission, Rosalind Franklin Rover and Kazachok surface platforms are included in the descent module, each with its own pilot shoot for extraction to slow down as it enters the Martian atmosphere. Two major parachutes are required. While the descent module is moving at supersonic speed, the 15 m wide first stage main parachute opens and the 35 m wide second stage main parachute is deployed once at subsonic speed.

The latest extraction test focused on the first main parachute offered by both companies. Arescosmo has addressed an open issue in a previously failed test. A revision of the new bag design and folding approach to avoid twisting the lines during extraction. Airborne Systems parachutes and bags have also completed several rounds of development testing to validate the extraction process.

ExoMars Parachute Extraction Test-Ares Cosmo. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

“Both worked very well in the test,” says Thierry Blancquaert, ESA ExoMars Program Team Leader. “In-depth inspection revealed that some small areas of the parachute canopy were rubbed during the bag extraction process, reducing the strength of the fabric in some of these places. Mutual inspection with video footage. The Airborne Systems team will make changes to the parachute bag and packing the moment the damage occurs, which can be done in a very quick turnaround of just a few days and will reach successful results. “

The parachute was originally packed in a bag around the central mortar containing the pilot chute, so it was unpacked in a 360 degree way when extracted. Folding the parachute band in two layers, first unfolding in one direction and then 180 degrees in the other direction, has been shown to reduce the tendency of the canopy to experience the friction caused by wrapping the mortar. It was.

Airborne Systems’ first main parachute advances from Kiruna, Sweden, towards testing in the first high-altitude drop test scheduled for early June: two high-altitude balloons and a dummy descent module in June. Will be available in the window. The descending vehicle fell under the parachute from a stratospheric balloon at an altitude of about 29 km.

For Ares Cosmos, the first main parachute acts as a backup and instead focuses on the second main parachute. The upgrades made to this parachute and bag have already been implemented and tested in the December 2020 dynamic extraction test. This includes the use of stronger parachute lines and reinforcements around the vertices of the parachute. In future high altitude tests, a slightly smaller size pilot chute (3.7m compared to the previous 4.5m) is intended to reduce the energy and friction generated when pulling the second main parachute out of the bag. Will also be implemented. .. This cannot be pre-tested on a ground rig that focuses solely on the extraction of the main parachute from the bag.

ExoMars parachute extraction test. Credit: Airborne Systems

An additional ground-based dynamic extraction test slot is scheduled during August in preparation for another high-altitude drop test scheduled for October / November this year from Oregon, USA. In the first half of 2022, higher altitude testing opportunities will be considered. Subsequent test configurations will depend heavily on the results of future tests in Kiruna, but it is expected that at least one successful test will be repeated.

High altitude drop tests are difficult to schedule due to the complex logistics and harsh weather conditions. Ground tests, on the other hand, can be repeated with rapid turnarounds, reducing risk by spending significantly more time on test campaigns and allowing more tests to be performed. A short time frame.

“Our strategy of two highly qualified teams working on parachutes has already been successful with the availability of ground test rigs and we look forward to the next high altitude drop test,” says Thierry. .. “Safe landing on Mars is a notorious and difficult task. Investing our efforts in this test strategy is an important part of a successful mission when it arrives on Mars in 2023. . ”

ExoMars parachute test advances

Provided by the European Space Agency

Quote: The new ExoMars parachute (May 21, 2021) ready for high altitude descent is available from https: // 2021 Acquired on May 21, 2014

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New ExoMars parachute for high altitude descent

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