Curiosity’s Parachute Shifts in the Wind on Mars

Curiosity Parachute Flaps in the Wind on Mars

This sequence of seven images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows wind-caused changes in the parachute of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft as the chute lay on the Martian ground during months after its use in safe landing of the Curiosity rover. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

A sequence of seven images shows how the parachute used in Curiosity’s landing on Mars has shifted in response to wind.

Pasadena, California – Photos from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show how the parachute that helped NASA’s Curiosity rover land on Mars last summer has subsequently changed its shape on the ground.

The images were obtained by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Seven images taken by HiRISE between Aug. 12, 2012, and Jan. 13, 2013, show the used parachute shifting its shape at least twice in response to wind.

The images in the sequence of photos are available online at http://uahirise.org/releases/msl-chute.php and at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16813.

Researchers have used HiRISE to study many types of changes on Mars. Its first image of Curiosity’s parachute, not included in this series, caught the spacecraft suspended from the chute during descent through the Martian atmosphere.

HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson. The instrument was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project and Curiosity are managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been studying Mars from orbit since 2006, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mro.

Source: Guy Webster, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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