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We put it to the test! Through a series of tests in the Arizona desert, engineers have refined Orion’s parachutes and worked to certify them for flights with astronauts, including the recent successful test Dec. 13, seen here, that looked at a failure case in which only two of the systems three orange and white main parachutes deploy after several other parachutes in the system used to slow and stabilize Orion endure high aerodynamic stresses. But behind the scenes, engineers are working hard to understand and perfect the system that must be able to work across a broad range of potential environmental conditions and bring the crew home since the astronauts inside descend with their lives hanging by a series of threads during the parachute-assisted end of future Orion missions. Image credit: U.S. Army
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Rhea is a heavily-cratered, airless world, while Titan’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere is even thicker than Earth’s. This natural color image was taken in visible light by the Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 19, 2009, at a distance of approximately 713,300 miles (1,148,000 kilometers) from Rhea. After a nearly 20-year mission that overflowed with discoveries, the Cassini spacecraft ended its mission on Sept. 15, 2017. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute