It's interesting that retention is one of the key problems the NCWIT calls out in their study, where they claim a 56% departure rate of women from the field, and yet they have no solutions to offer.
Parachutes don't just unfold, they actually deploy in a very controlled fashion. All it takes is something to initiate the sequence. In human parachutes, a pilot chute is released, which pulls out a deployment bag. The bag in turn does not open until suspension lines are stretched, and once the canopy is released from the bag, it inflates due to the difference in static air pressure within. vs dynamic air pressure outside (Bernoulli's principle). There are further mechanisms to slow down deployment in order to control the deceleration and opening shock (important for human well being). Problems occur if things happen out of sequence, or if the parachute is structurally unsound.
I can't speak for the system NASA is using, but I expect there already is a unit to "unfold" the parachute, and it is all part of the parachute system already.
The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings