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Mars landings, Moon landings. . . Wherever I see a documentary or still pictures in Wikipedia, there are parachutes in the landing of rovers. Whenever I see them, I ask myself, "How they can it decelerate the speed of rovers, when there is no / thin air?" Something needs to be there to create friction!

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    $\begingroup$ I am curious to see a reference where parachutes are used to land on the Moon... $\endgroup$
    – Py-ser
    Feb 9 '15 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ now i come to think of it, i haven't ! General assumption ! $\endgroup$
    – cowboysaif
    Feb 9 '15 at 20:03
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Parachutes have never been used on the moon, but they are viable for Mars because Mars does have an atmosphere - albiet one much lighter than that of Earth. For that reason, parachutes cannot be the only means of slowing down on Mars --- for example, in the case of the Curiosity Rover, that's why an elaborate booster and crane combination was used (see figure). Another approach, taken by the Pathfinder Rover, was to use large airbags to bounce on landing.

One benefit to using parachutes on Mars, is that they can be used at higher velocities --- unlike on Earth where the heavier atmosphere (and thus stronger drag force) would shred a parachute at comparable speeds.

enter image description here

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