Tiverton based firm Heathcoat Fabrics Limited played a crucial role in NASA’s 2020 mission to Mars.
On 30 July 2020 Perseverance launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This was the start of its seven-month, 480-million-kilometre journey. Once there its role was to look for signs of ancient life and collect samples of Martian rock and soil. The systems on board the Perseverance Rover are fragile and so a soft landing on the planet’s surface is essential.
On 18 February 2021, four minutes after entering the Martian atmosphere, Perseverance deployed its parachute made from fabric developed and produced by Heathcoat’s. The fabric can withstand huge extremes of temperature and still be strong enough to withstand the incredible force of deployment at great speed. A Heathcoat’s engineer described it as ‘the strongest, lightest and most heat resistant parachute fabric ever produced’. At the point of parachute deployment it was travelling at 20,000km/h per hour (16 times the speed of sound). The single parachute reduced Perseverance's speed by 98.4%.
More information on the fabric and a video of the parachute’s deployment: https://www.heathcoat.co.uk/perseverance-landing/
More information on the Perseverance Mission: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/
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