Close-up of the parachute bag – containing one of two test parachutes of the ExoMars 2020 mission – using a NASA/JPL test rig powered by compressed air. The image shows the new configuration of the parachute bag, which releases the parachute from the centre outward, with the bag opening in a petal-like fashion. The tests are carried out to verify the extraction of the parachutes from the modified bag.
The lid of the parachute assembly is pulled along a suspended cable at high speed while the end of the assembly is fixed to a wall. When the release mechanism is activated, the parachute bag is pulled away from the parachute at the target speed, mimicking the extraction as it will be on Mars. At the highest speeds, the tests enable the extraction to take place at more than 200 km/h.
The parachute system is critical for the safe landing of the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars 2020 mission on the surface of Mars in March 2021.