News / Science & Technology

NASA to Test 'Flying Saucer' for Future Mars Missions

NASA's LDSD project will be flying a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into near-space this June from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.
NASA's LDSD project will be flying a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into near-space this June from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii.

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VOA News
Earthlings have long fantasized about flying saucers from Mars, but in a strange twist, it may be humans that end up launching one to the Red Planet.
 
Early this month, the U.S. space agency NASA will test what it calls the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator mission, or LDSD. The test will take place high in the Earth’s atmosphere, at altitudes that most resembles the thin Martian atmosphere.
 
The saucer shaped craft could be the key to future exploration of Mars as it would allow heavier payloads to be delivered to our planetary neighbor.
 
“Future robotic missions to Mars and even future human exploration will require more massive payloads than previously sent to the surface of the Red Planet,” NASA said in a statement.
 
The inspiration for the LDSD came, oddly enough, from a sea creature, the Hawaiian pufferfish.
 
When threatened, the pufferfish is able to rapidly inflate, something NASA researchers hope the LDSD can do to slow heavy cargo as it speeds through the thin Martian atmosphere.
 
NASA said the current technology for landing spacecraft on Mars dates back to the 1970s and the Viking missions.

“That same technology is still being used and most recently delivered the Curiosity rover to Mars in 2012,” the agency wrote.
 
For the test, NASA plans to use a balloon to take the LDSD 120,000 feet into the air. At that altitude, the balloon will have swollen to 34 million cubic feet, or large enough to “fit a professional football stadium inside it.”
 
At that point, the balloon will detach and a rocket engine will fire the craft up to 180,000 feet at a speed of four times the speed of sound.
 
From 180,000 feet, the LDSD will begin a free fall. At this point the pufferfish concept will be tested when the the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) is deployed. The SIAD is a kevlar tube that inflated rapidly, slowing the spacecraft.
 
Once the disc reaches a safe speed, it will deploy a new kind of supersonic parachute which will allow for a safe landing in the ocean.

NASA has identified several dates early this month to conduct the test from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

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by: David Menefee
June 03, 2014 6:35 PM
Sci-Fi fans, hold onto your jet packs: Pulitzer-nominated author and composer David Menefee has teamed up with master musician Masanori to create "The Man from Mars,” the world's first Mars One tribute song. The gut-wrenching three-minute mini-drama with Techno music embraces a cosmic set-up that rivals Star Wars.

“It’s 2024. The Mars One mission. Count down. Blast off,” describes Menefee. “In seconds, I am alone in outer space, a pioneer from the human race on a one-way trip to the red planet. Suddenly, I can think of nothing but my greatest love, the girl I left behind . . . forever.”

Menefee’s and Masanori's “The Man from Mars” song explores love in outer space and what may happen when an astronaut blasts off on the upcoming one-way Mars One mission in 2024. “Love is the greatest thing in the world,” Menefee explains, “but when destiny calls, an astronaut has to be willing to leave behind the greatest love of his or her life. We’ve captured that mood and sentiment in a mesmerizing blend of music, lyrics, and sound effects. Who knows? The song may prove to be prophetic.”

The third of their musical collaborations, "The Man from Mars" weaves lead and harmony vocals with an ominous twenty-male background chorus entwined into a futuristic fugue that would make Steven Spielberg envious.

Listen to "The Man from Mars" on YouTube:
http://youtu.be/bpOS4rStT3E


by: Geramy S.
June 02, 2014 4:48 PM
Is it reverse engineered from a previous landed or crashed extraterrestrial saucer?

What kind of anti- gravity system is it?

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