How would a flying saucer work

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Hawaii (AP) - NASA has tested a device via Hawaii that is reminiscent of a flying saucer. However, it is not supposed to search for extraterrestrial life, but rather to bring earthly aircraft safely to Mars.

Nasa has tested a spectacular landing module for future Mars missions and, despite a breakdown, has spoken of a complete success. “Everything worked wonderfully and the experiment was a hundred percent profit,” said project manager Mark Adler the day after the test flight of the “Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator” (LDSD). LDSD is reminiscent of a large flying saucer and is supposed to test an inflatable ring and a giant parachute. Both are to be used once to land probes safely on Mars.

A huge helium balloon with a volume of more than 1.2 million cubic meters had carried the LDSD from a military base on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in a maneuver that took hours to 36,600 meters. Then a rocket ignited, which brought the device about 20,000 meters higher and almost four times the speed of sound. In the thin air at an altitude of 54,900 meters - where conditions similar to those in the Martian atmosphere prevail - the LDSD was then thrown off. About 30 minutes later, he crashed into the ocean near Hawaii. New technologies should slow the fall: an airbag similar to a swimming ring and a parachute a good 30 meters wide.

According to Adler, the device fell into the water at 40 to 50 kilometers per hour. “Yes, the device hit quite hard. But it's intact, everything works fine, ”he said. Even if the parachute did not deploy exactly as planned, it was a win: “We test to learn. And that's why yesterday was a flawless success. " And: "We have made some progress on the way to Mars."

It was - after several delays due to bad weather - the first of three test flights. The next two should not take place for a year. Nasa has braking systems that have already been tested on Mars. In principle, however, they come from the “Viking” probes and are around 40 years old. They were also used in 2012 when the rover “Curiosity” landed on Mars.

The new technologies should not only be more precise and be able to place larger loads on Mars and other celestial bodies, they should also take up less space on the journey.