Mars Parachute Design

Learn about different ways to land on Mars, then design your own spacecraft and parachute to safely land on Mars.

Courtesy NASA

Parachute
Design Challenge
Materials
  • Plastic Cup

  • String or Dental Floss

  • Scissor

  • Coffee Filter (or Plastic Grocery Bag)

  • Hole Puncher or Ballpoint Pen

  • Tape

  • Aluminum Foil

  • Printable Cutout Sheet for this Activity (Found at the Bottom of the Week 3 Site Page)

Step 1

Wrap the cup in aluminum foil. Cut off any excess foil.

Step 2

Insert four holes near the top of the cup, each on different sides and equally distanced from each other.

 

 Cut out the flag and portholes from the cutout sheet and glue or tape it to the cup.

Step 3

Tie string or dental floss that are each about 12 inches long through each hole.

Step 4

Decorate your coffee filter (or similar) to look like a parachute.  (If using a plastic bag instead of a coffee filter, cut the bag open so it lies flat.  Then, cut out either a rectangular or circle shape from the plastic bag material.)

 

Insert four holes in the coffee filter, so that there is one hole in each quarter side of the filter.  The holes should be equidistant from each other.  (If using rectangular shaped plastic material, insert a hole near the corner of each rectangle.)

Step 5

Tie (and/or tape) the strings (or floss) through the holes in the coffee filter or plastic bag material. Make sure not to tangle the strings/floss.

You have now completed your parachute design! Experiment with different lengths of strings, different size and shape of parachute, etc., to slow down your spacecraft's landing.  The slower the parachute is the less impact there is upon landing.  A slower parachute is more effective.

Images of Pillars of Creation, Future Mars Base, Curiosity Rover, Milky Way, Moon, and International Space Station are courtesy of NASA. Image of Earth's atmosphere courtesy of Science Museum of Exploration.