When you strap a rocket to anything, you're pretty much guaranteed an awesome experience (well, usually). And when it comes to strapping rockets, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone better at it than NASA.
Introducing the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a system that will one day be used to land humans on Mars. But before that happens, some extensive testing needs to be carried out.
ANALYSIS: Curiosity's Old Parachute Flaps in the Martian Wind
The LDSD is a project that involves developing new and old technologies to effectively decelerate large payloads through the Martian atmosphere before landing on the Red Planet's surface. One of the most effective methods of slowing stuff down as they barrel through an atmosphere is to use a parachute. But as the Martian atmosphere is around 100 times thinner than Earth's, really big parachutes need to be constructed.
In the video above, as described by mechanical engineer Mike Meacham at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., in the case of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory that carried out a flawless Martian landing in August 2012, large parachutes can usually be tested inside wind tunnels on Earth before being strained by a supersonic atmospheric entry on Mars.