Canadian Plastics

High-performance fibre from Teijin is headed to Mars, again

The company's Technora high-performance para-aramid fibre plays a critical role in the structure of the Rover’s landing parachute.

August 5, 2020   Canadian Plastics

The Mars Perseverance Rover’s inflated parachute and suspension cords. Photo Credit: Teijin/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

On a mission to seek signs of past microscopic Martian life and gather rocks soil for its eventual return to Earth, the Mars Perseverance Rover is carrying the heaviest payload of any trip to Mars yet – and a high-performance fibre from material supplier Teijin Aramid has been incorporated into the mission to help the Rover land on the Red Planet safely.

Teijin Aramid’s Technora high-performance para-aramid fibre plays a critical role in the structure of the Rover’s landing parachute, developed by Airborne Systems and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which will be deployed during descent to Mars in February 2021. The Rover was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. on July 30.

Specifically, the parachute system has proven it can support an inflation load of 31,751 kg (almost 70,000 lb). The challenging surface conditions on Mars include average temperatures of -63°C, frequent dust storms, and atmospheric electricity.

To ensure this unique parachute system performs under the extreme conditions of the descent to Mars, 60 kg (132 lb) of Technora is incorporated into the parachute’s suspension cords. Technora is also used in the parachute riser.

This latest Rover mission builds on previous Mars Rover expeditions, which also carried Technora. In particular, Technora was used on the Mars Curiosity Rover in 2012, where the parachute’s suspension cords had to withstand a 9G force during the landing – about 27,000 kg (59,525 lb).

“When designing and building the parachute system for Mars Perseverance Rover, it was very important to utilize the volume that we were allocated to its fullest potential,” said Charles Lowry, lead project engineer for Airborne Systems North America, Mars 2020 parachute system subcontractor. “Thanks to its outstanding strength-to-weight ratio, Technora allows us to do just that and increases the overall safety of the mission by providing more volume for stronger parachute cloth. There are many unknowns involved in any mission to space, but the tried and proven performance of Technora is not one of them.”


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