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Space Exploration/mars exploration

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Question
Thank you first of all. My question is when the latest rover decelerated by some 12,000 mph in the mas atmosphere,a giant chute was deployed in order to slow it down enough to fire the rockets which then held the craft 100 ft above the gerund as it lowered curiosity down on cables.
My question is with mars atmospheric pressure being just 1% that of earths at ground level and 1/2% of the earths higher up, how could a parachute collect enough air to even open up let alone slow down a 2 ton payload so dramatically in a mars atmosphere so thin its  similar to the vacuum of space?

Answer
Hi, thanks for writing.  I am not sure of the numbers, but the drag on the parachute (also depending on the size and the amount of time they were deployed) was enough that it resulted in enough fuel savings to be worth the parachutes being used.  Write anytime.

Space Exploration

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Kenneth Renshaw

Expertise

Answer basic space flight questions, research info on specific space flights. Answer questions on astronomy

Experience

Amateur astronomer and avid astronomy/space flight fan for 31 years.

Organizations
Official NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador for Arkansas and Missouri (one of about 300 nationwide). (http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/profiles/Kenneth_Renshaw.htm)

Publications
Numerous local and area newspapers.

Education/Credentials
AA/BME/MME

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