The 70.5-foot supersonic parachute was an extraordinary engineering challenge, said Ian Clark, systems engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"We did testing that hadn't been done really since the Viking program (in the '70s and '80s), which was supersonic parachute testing of scale parachutes," Clark said.
Nylon, Technora and Kevlar were used to make the largest parachute ever sent to Mars, material that was three times stronger than what was used for the Curiosity rover landing in 2012.
While working on the parachute design, Clark knew there would be a lot of utility in creating a pattern.
When the parachute inflated on Mars, only about six people, including Clark, knew about the existence of the message.During a press conference where the video was shared with the public on Monday, entry, descent and landing lead Allen Chen teased that there might be something to decipher in the orange-and-white parachute.Within hours, space fans began posting what they deciphered on Reddit and Twitter.
When Mohan said the parachute had deployed, Clark kept an eye on the speed of the spacecraft as it dropped down through the atmosphere.
When images and video from the descent began to come back, Clark finally knew the team's efforts had paid off and the parachute inflated beautifully."The realization of what happened started bubbling up to the surface," Clark said.
This first video of a spacecraft landing on Mars will be used by teams planning other missions for decades, Clark said.
"We've been wanting to do this kind of mission for nearly six decades now," Clark said.