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NASA: Parachutes Pass Drop Test, Will be Installed In Orion Spacecraft

The parachute system were "deployed as planned after being dropped from an altitude of 6.6 miles [10.6 kilometers) on July 12, at the US Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona", NASA said in a statement.

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NASA solar probe launch delayed. Pixabay
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The parachutes for NASA’s next crew vehicle, the Orion capsule, intended to carry humans to deep space, has successfully passed a drop test, the US space agency said.

Orion’s full parachute system includes 11 parachutes three forward-bay cover parachutes, two drogue parachutes, three pilot parachutes, and three main parachutes.

These are designed to reduce the capsule’s speed during its descent back to Earth, supporting a safe landing in the ocean.

The parachute system were “deployed as planned after being dropped from an altitude of 6.6 miles [10.6 kilometers) on July 12, at the US Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona”, NASA said in a statement.

Data from, the seventh of eight total tests, “will help NASA engineers certify Orion’s parachutes for missions with astronauts” to moon and Mars.

The test evaluated parachute deployment under conditions that exceeded the requirements for a system carrying crew.

NASA
The test evaluated parachute deployment under conditions that exceeded the requirements for a system carrying crew. Pixabay

Engineers dropped the dart-shaped test article from an altitude that allowed it to generate enough speed to simulate almost twice as much force on the main chutes as would be expected under normal conditions.

Each of Orion’s three main parachutes expands to 116 feet in diameter and contains enough fabric to cover 80 yards of a football field, but is carried aboard Orion in containers the size of a large suitcase.

For storage, the parachutes are compacted with hydraulic presses at forces of up to 80,000 pounds, baked for two days and vacuumed sealed.

Once packed, they have a density of about 40 pounds per cubic foot, which is roughly the same as wood from an oak tree.

Also Read- Nasa Developing Technology to Protect from Space Radiation to reach Mars Safely

The last test in the series, scheduled for September, will use a capsule-shaped test article representative of the spacecraft NASA will use on Orion’s upcoming missions (IANS)

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The Secret Behind NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

The spacecraft, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on August 12, will transmit its first scientific observations in December.

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Why won't NASA's Parker Solar Probe melt?
Why won't NASA's Parker Solar Probe melt?VOA

With NASA launching a historic Parker Solar Probe deeper into the solar atmosphere than any mission before it, a moot question arises: Why won’t it melt?

Inside the solar atmosphere — a region known as the corona — the probe will provide observations of what drives the wide range of particles, energy and heat that course through the region.

The spacecraft will travel through material with temperatures greater than several million degrees Celsius while being bombarded with intense sunlight.

According to the US space agency, Parker Solar Probe has been designed to withstand the extreme conditions and temperature fluctuations for the mission.

“The key lies in its custom heat shield and an autonomous system that helps protect the mission from the Sun’s intense light emission, but does allow the coronal material to ‘touch’ the spacecraft,” NASA said in a statement.

Parker solar probe
The spacecraft, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. IANS

While the Parker Solar Probe will travel through a space with temperatures of several million degrees, the surface of the heat shield that faces the Sun will only get heated to about 1,400 degree Celsius.

This is because “in space, the temperature can be thousands of degrees without providing significant heat to a given object or feeling hot. Since space is mostly empty, there are very few particles that can transfer energy to the spacecraft”.

The corona through which the Parker Solar Probe flies, for example, has an extremely high temperature but very low density.

The probe makes use of a heat shield known as the Thermal Protection System, or TPS, which is eight feet in diameter and 4.5 inches thick.

Those few inches of protection mean that just on the other side of the shield, the spacecraft body will sit at a comfortable 30 degrees Celsius.

Parker-Solar-2, NASA
The Parker Solar Probe sits in a clean room at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., after the installation of its heat shield. VOA

The TPS was designed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and was built at Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies, using a carbon composite foam sandwiched between two carbon plates.

This lightweight insulation will be accompanied by a finishing touch of white ceramic paint on the sun-facing plate, to reflect as much heat as possible.

“Tested to withstand up to 1,650 degrees Celsius, the TPS can handle any heat the Sun can send its way, keeping almost all instrumentation safe,” said NASA.

Another challenge came in the form of the electronic wiring — most cables would melt from exposure to heat radiation at such close proximity to the Sun.

To solve this problem, the team grew sapphire crystal tubes to suspend the wiring, and made the wires from the chemical element niobium.

NASA
Several other designs on the spacecraft keep Parker Solar Probe sheltered from the heat.Flickr

Several other designs on the spacecraft keep Parker Solar Probe sheltered from the heat.

Without protection, the solar panels — which use energy from the very star being studied to power the spacecraft — can overheat.

At each approach to the Sun, the solar arrays retract behind the heat shield’s shadow, leaving only a small segment exposed to the Sun’s intense rays.

Also Read: Red-hot Voyage to Sun Will Bring us Closer to our Star

The solar arrays have a surprisingly simple cooling system: a heated tank that keeps the coolant from freezing during launch, two radiators that will keep the coolant from freezing, aluminium fins to maximise the cooling surface, and pumps to circulate the coolant.

The spacecraft, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on August 12, will transmit its first scientific observations in December. (IANS)