Parachuting to Mars

Some things in life have to work the first time, and every time. A parachute, for instance.

So if you were a NASA scientist, and you had to parachute a rover down on the surface of Mars, to go exploring…

…what would you trust to land it there safely?  A supersonic parachute made from petrochemicals, of course.

Specifically, you’d want butadiene or benzene and xylene in your chemistry set. And those are the ingredients that go into making this supersonic parachute…

Did you know?

The Petrochemical Connection:

 Butadiene, which is produced by breaking apart molecules found in petroleum and natural gas, is used to make nylon. Benzene, which is made by rearranging hydrocarbon molecules found in petroleum through a reforming process, can also be used to make nylon. 

 Xylene, which is also made from petroleum in the reforming process, is used to make Kevlar and Technora. 

(Photo from SF Gate)

Ouch.

Want to see the supersonic parachute successfully in action (on Earth), check this video from its creator, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

To see the parachute in action on Mars though, you’ll have to wait till 2020.

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