Teijin fibers help slow Curiosity Rover during descent to Mars

Parachute cords made with Teijin's Technora para-aramid fibers helped slow NASA's Curiosity Rover from 1,450 kmh to 290 kmh in less than two minutes as it entered the Mars atmosphere.

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Teijin (Arnhem, The Netherlands) reported on Aug. 13 that its Technora para-aramid fibers played a key role in slowing NASA's Curiosity Rover during its descent to Mars.

After a 100 million-km journey, NASA’s Curiosity Rover entered Mars’s atmosphere and was slowed down – aided by its enormous parachute and Teijin’s super fibres – from a speed of 1,450 kmh to 290 kmh in less than two minutes.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed safely on the surface of Mars with the help of the largest supersonic parachute ever made. The parachute weighs 60 kg/132 lb, has a diameter of 15m/49.3 ft and is as long as a 16-story building is tall.

According to NASA’s calculations, the parachute cords had to withstand a force of 9Gs during the landing – about 27,000 kg/59,525 lb. Although the parachute has been tested to withstand almost 37,000 kg/81,571 lb of force, the 80 Technora cords actually have a combined breaking strength of almost double that: 72,500 kg/159,835 lb.

Technora is a para-aramid fibre fabricated from copolymers. It is eight times stronger than steel, combined with a great degree of dimensional stability and excellent resistance against extreme heat. 

For an explanation of the parachute and the Technora cords by Dr. Douglas Adams, parachute cognizant engineer at NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, visit tinyurl.com/cs8cusj