Could the heat shield, the backshell or the parachute come into contact with the lander inadvertently?

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Could the heat shield, the backshell or the parachute come into contact with the lander inadvertently?

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Another good question. There are two parts to your question. For the problem of “recontact”, we spent a lot of effort to make sure that recontact does not occur after separation. We did this in two ways. First we spent a good deal of effort to create models (mathematical/computer ones) of most of the components (including the parachute). We characterized the forces of things like the separation springs, aerodynamics and gravity, measured clearances and mass properties, determined the quantitative uncertainty in these parameters (tolerances), and finally we simulated the separation events over and over again using the full range of possible uncertainties – guaranteeing that recontact does not occur in any of the possible cases. So that we could double check that our models were created correctly, we then do a small number of separation tests using real hardware and confirm that the model correctly predicts the outcomes for the test. This latter step is what we call “model correlation”.

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