From Devon to Mars: Perseverance's Parachute
A Devon textiles company, Heathcoat Fabrics, has despatched its wares to many locations, the latest being Mars. It was responsible for producing the parachute that helped NASA's Mars rover, Perseverance, land on the red planet on 18th February 2021.
The Tiverton company has also played its part in other space missions over the years with its special resilient fabrics.
Perseverance launched on 30th July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, starting its 480-million-kilometre mission to Mars to discover possible evidence of ancient alien life.
After a seven-month journey, the rover entered the Martain atmosphere travelling at around 20,000km/h per hour. The deployment of the parachute meant the vehicle slowed to around 320m/h, a 98.4% reduction, allowing the rover to make its successful soft landing on the surface of the planet.
Heathcoat’s parachute was specially designed to strengthen when exposed to extremely high temperatures, and helped slow the probe down from its supersonic speeds. The incredibly strong and ultra-lightweight material was created using unique Heathcoat Advanced Yarns, customised weaving and a specialised fabric finishing process.
In addition to NASA's Mars2020 mission, the fabrics supplied by the Devon-based company have already been used to land the Huygens probe on Titan, Beagle 2 on Mars, and to bring space capsules back to Earth from the International Space Station.
Heathcoat's fabric is also used for drone recovery parachutes, paraglider and skydiver reserve parachutes.
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