NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover 2020 carried over 60kg of our premium para-aramid
After more than a decade of careful preparation, NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover successfully touched down on Mars’s Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. This Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) phase was the shortest and most intense phase of the Mars 2020 mission, as the Perseverance Rover went from traveling through Mars’s atmosphere at almost 12,500 mph (20,000 km/h) to landing in just seven minutes.
Enabling this unique space exploration mission is Teijin Aramid’s Technora®. This premium para-aramid material played a crucial role in the structure of the landing parachute, designed and manufactured by Airborne Systems, a trusted partner of Teijin Aramid. This supersonic parachute, which is 70.5 feet (21.5 meters) in diameter, deployed about 240 seconds after entry at an altitude of about seven miles (11 kilometers) and about 940 mph (1,512 km/h), slowing to about 200 mph (320 km/h) in 1.5 minutes.
Building on a platform of success
The Mars Perseverance Rover is on a tough mission. Not only is it having to overcome the Red Planet’s challenging surface conditions – including average temperatures of -63°C, dust storms, and atmospheric electricity – but first it had to descend and land safely. To do this, its parachute needed to support the heaviest payload of any mission to the Red Planet yet, and withstand extreme pressures and forces. Because of these high stakes, the mission relied on a range of proven technological innovations, especially for entry, descent, and landing – including parachute suspension cords based on Teijin Aramid’s Technora®.
Indeed, many of these technologies had already been tested on the four previous Mars Rover missions (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity). In particular, Technora® was used to suspend Mars Curiosity Rover from its parachute during descent in 2012. Curiosity’s parachute was tested to withstand almost 37,000 kg (81,000 lb) of force, but its 80 Technora® suspension cords actually had a combined breaking strength of almost double that: 72,500 kg (160,000 lb).
Special properties for
a special application
Collaboration at its finest
Behind the design, development, and testing that qualified this parachute for use on Mars were strong organizational partnerships. Specifically, Teijin Aramid was responsible for delivering Technora® to C.S.R. Braids, who expertly braided the yarn into high-performance cords, and Bally Ribbon Mills, who developed the parachute’s riser. These items were central to the parachute design of Airborne Systems, a leading parachute design and production company, developed in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a leading center for robotic exploration of the solar system.
Credits: Interview with Airborne Systems about Mars Perseverance Rover’s parachute
“Each party in this value chain contributed their own unique expertise and services to the Mars Perseverance Rover mission,” says Charles Lowry, Lead Project Engineer Mars 2020 Parachute System at Airborne Systems. “Together, we were able to deliver a high-performance parachute that is among the most reliable, robust, and resilient parachutes ever created. Using standard specification materials would have increased the overall mass of the Parachute System by 50%. That was simply not an option. We could not have done this without the high-quality collaboration of C.S.R., Bally Ribbon Mills, and in turn, Teijin Aramid.”
“The excellent properties of Technora® make it the fiber of,
choice in many parachute suspension line applications”
A particular set of high-performance properties
So, what made Technora® the material of choice for the Mars Perseverance Rover’s parachute suspension cords? In particular, the exceptional mechanical and chemical qualities of Technora®, which offers higher performance than many other high-tenacity synthetic fibers, make it ideal for demanding space exploration applications. In chemical terms, Technora® is similar to Twaron®, but it is different in that it is derived from a copolymer, giving it even more high-performance qualities.
“The excellent properties of Technora® make it the fiber of choice in many parachute suspension line applications,” says Frank Bradley Jr., President C.S.R. Braids. “In particular, its high strength-to-weight ratio, high heat stability, dimensional stability, and resistance to abrasion make Technora® well-suited to many aerodynamic deceleration systems for Earth-bound landings and interplanetary landings.”
Indeed, a wide range of suspension cords and cables can last longer, lift heavier weights, and survive extreme conditions when they integrate Technora®. In particular, Technora® can be used at 200°C for extended periods, making it suitable for the extreme conditions of the manufacturing process.
Follow the Mars Perseverance Rover further
The Mars Perseverance Rover will undertake its mission for roughly one Mars year (equivalent to 687 Earth days). By exploring the Red Planet’s surface and taking soil samples, it is helping to characterize the planet’s climate and geology and prepare for future human exploration by testing oxygen production in its atmosphere. In this way, the Mars Rover is helping to broaden the horizons of scientific understanding and pave the way for a better future – on Earth and beyond.
Fans and supporters of the Mars Perseverance Rover are able to follow the spacecraft via NASA’s online TV channel.
For more information about Teijin Aramid’s Technora®, please click here.
For more information about Teijin Aramid’s Press Release, please click here.
For more information about the Mars Perseverance Rover, please click here.
For more information about NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, please click here.
For more information about Airborne Systems, please click here.
For more information about C.S.R. Braids, please click here.
For more information about Bally Ribbon Mills, please click here.