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NASA Testing Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Flying Saucer For Future Missions

Update Date: Apr 13, 2014 10:26 PM EDT
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Flying saucers are going to be reality very soon. NASA is reportedly testing its Low-density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) which has been designed to increase the agencies payload delivery capacity for future missions. 

Up until now, missions to Mars involved landing relatively small rovers. However for the future plans the agency is going to need a delivery system that can safely land heavier and bulkier payload on the Martian surface. 

"The LDSD crosscutting demonstration mission will test breakthrough technologies that will enable large payloads to be safely landed on the surface of Mars, or other planetary bodies with atmospheres, including Earth," said NASA in a statement. "These new technologies will not only enable landing of larger payloads on Mars, but also allow access to much more of the planet's surface by enabling landings at higher altitude sites."

According to reports, members of the media were treated to sneak peak of NASA's new flying saucer-like machine where journalists were allowed entry into a NASA lab at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 

"The LDSD is one of several crosscutting technologies NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is developing to create the new knowledge and capabilities necessary to enable our future missions to an asteroid, Mars and beyond," the agency added. "The directorate is committed to developing the critical technologies required to enable future exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit."

LSD is one of the three devices that are currently being developed by NASA. 

"Together, these new drag devices can increase payload delivery to the surface of Mars from our current capability of 1.5 metric tons to 2 to 3 metric tons, depending on which inflatable decelerator is used in combination with the parachute," said NASA in the LDSD's overview. "They will increase available landing altitudes by 2-3 kilometers, increasing the accessible surface area we can explore. They also will improve landing accuracy from a margin of 10 kilometers to just 3 kilometers. All these factors will increase the capabilities and robustness of robotic and human explorers on Mars."

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