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The tech we need for Deep Space exploration

Nasa Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator

The LDSD can land heavy cargo on planets. Image credit: Nasa/JPL

Getting to a distant planet or moon is one thing; stopping in time is quite another. This is the game of atmospheric deceleration, and it reached the next level in June during Nasa's 'flying saucer' test. Designed largely for Mars landings of the future, the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) is the largest supersonic parachute ever built, with balloon-like pressure vessels that inflate around the spacecraft to slow it from Mach 3.5 to Mach 2 or lower.

It's primarily for sending heavy cargo – twice as heavy as anything sent so far – safely to Mars in advance of more serous robotic, or manned, missions. However, it should also make landings on Martian mountains possible. See you at the top of Olympus Mons.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),