Watch NASA launch a new 'Supersonic Flying Saucer'

The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator imitates the rapid inflation technique of the Hawaiian puffer fish

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The Independent Online

Footage has been released by Nasa of its latest space project, a new “supersonic flying saucer”.

The video of the saucer, which was launched from Hawaii on the 28 June, shows it being propelled 120,000ft into orbit by a giant balloon.

The device, officially named Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, imitates the rapid inflation technique of the Hawaiian puffer fish, and is part of Nasa’s attempts to try and protect its spacecraft during landings in space.

It is hoped that this new technique will reduce the speed of spacecraft on landings making it easier for Nasa to land craft on planets like Mars.

On landing, the new technique makes it possible to reduce a spacecraft’s speed from four times the speed of sound to two and a half times the speed of sound.

Currently, parachutes several times the size of those used for landings on earth are needed to land NASA’s Curiosity Rovers craft on Mars.

However, for future Nasa missions, spacecraft much heavier than the one-ton Curiosity Rover will be needed, and a new reduced landing speed will be essential for this.