What stops the parachute from falling onto the craft and gumming things up that way?

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What stops the parachute from falling onto the craft and gumming things up that way?

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Lots of people asked us that question at the beginning. If you don’t give this some serious thought, there is a real risk that the lander could get covered by the chute (a bit more than embarrassing). Fortunately we designed the timing and sizing of the solid rocket firing (remember there are three mounted inside the backshell) such that when the lander inside its inflated airbags comes to a stop some 12 m above the Martian surface, the software activates a cutter that cuts away the bridle thereby freeing the backshell from the lander. The rockets, with still a quarter second of impulse left over, launch the backshell up and away taking the parachute with it (at an angle, tumbling as it goes). Meanwhile the lander and airbag go bouncing away in the other direction! (Don’t you wish you could be there to watch it all happen?). You can click here to see an artist’s rendition of this procedure… –Rob Manning Back to the top of the page.

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