|Mars 'flying saucer' splashes back down after test|
|News - St Augustine Area & St Johns County|
LOS ANGELES — A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle launched by balloon high into Earth’s atmosphere splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, completing a successful test of technology that could be used to land on Mars.
Since the twin Viking spacecraft landed on the red planet in 1976, NASA has relied on the same parachute design to slow landers and rovers after piercing through the thin Martian atmosphere.
The $150 million experimental flight tested a novel vehicle and a giant parachute designed to deliver heavier spacecraft and eventually astronauts.
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