This is an artist's concept of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover parachute system. The parachute is attached to the top of the backshell portion of the spacecraft's aeroshell. In the scene depicted here, the heat shield portion of the aeroshell has been jettisoned and the mission's rover, Curiosity, is visible tucked into the backshell. The spacecraft's descent stage is also inside the backshell. When the backshell drops away, a radar system on the descent stage can begin determining the spacecraft's altitude and velocity.
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