A UK rover is one step closer to landing on Mars after a successful round of testing on a new parachute system.
The two-stage canopy sequence will help the Rosalind Franklin rover of 1,000mph when it heralds to the red planet.
It is a joint European-Russian project, and the rover was built in Stevenage by Airbus. It is due to launch in 2022.
The mission will try to detect evidence of life – past or present – at one of the earth’s nearest neighbors.
The parachute trial has been delayed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, wildfires and other factors, and was the first full-scale high altitude test.
The following two unsuccessful experiments last year.
Once the module – formerly known as the Exomars Rover – comes close to its destination, it will enter a six-minute landing sequence.
Pulling itself out of the atmosphere will slow it from 13,000 mph to 1,000 mph.
The first parachute will be deployed, followed 20 seconds later with the second.
When it comes around 0.6 miles above the surface, an engine will slow the descent even further to allow a certain touchdown.
Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, said: “Mars has been an object of our fascination and speculation for all recorded history, but we know that missions to the red planet are not easy.
“A total of 20 cents, from countries and agencies around the world, all had their share of crashes on their way to the red planet.
“They have crashed on start, crashed on landing, conceded from power.
“Parachute tests are vital in helping us get the technology just right and make sure the Rosalind Franklin Rover will make his trip with the best, most reliable equipment possible.”
Due to the thinner nature of the Mars atmosphere, the parachute testing could only occur high above the Earth.
The last test on Nov. 9, a vehicle dropped 18 miles over Oregon in the US. It. It is lifted with an atmospheric balloon.
The test was as expected, with the capsule landing intact and the parachutes recovered.
There was some damage to the canopies that were when they opened.
Program team leader Francois Spoto said: “Landing on Mars is extremely difficult, with no room for error.
“The last test was a good step forward but was not yet the perfect result we are looking for.
“Therefore, we will use the extensive test data we have acquired to refine our approach, plan further tests and keep on track for our launch in September 2022.”