The Next Mars Rover Needs A Mega-chute

NASA tests the next generation of space parachute inside the world's largest wind tunnel, built to hold a Boeing 737. The 165-foot-long parachute opens to a diameter of nearly 55 feet, holds more air than a 3,000 square foot house, and can survive loads of over 80,000 pounds. NASA hopes to launch its new Mars Science Lab in 2009, which will put the next generation of rover on the surface of Mars in 2010. Click through for a couple of images of the new rover in progress.

The Next Mars Rover Needs A Mega-chute

Above is an artist's image of the next-generation Mars rover, and below is a model of the Mars rover which engineers call the Scarecrow, because it's missing its computer brain. Mobility engineers are using the headless rover to test its mobility and suspension performance.

The Next Mars Rover Needs A Mega-chute

The next Mars rover faces development problems and skyrocketing costs, which could threaten its 2009 launch date. Images by AP/NASA.