My ship consists of a pod with a parachute on top and a science lab at the bottom. Now with the new update for KSP, my ship burns and my parachute gets destroyed when entering Kerbin. How do I stop my parachute from getting damaged?
Since Version 1.0, flying too fast through the atmosphere can damage your craft. To prevent this from happening, either try to reenter the atmosphere as slowly as possible by going into a low orbit first or place a heat shield on the bottom of your craft to prevent damage. When the rest of your craft survives the reentry even without a heat shield and only your parachute gets burnt off, wait with opening it until the craft slowed down to at least 250 m/s, which should still be far enough away from the ground to prevent a
kaboom loss of structural integrity on ground contact.
But when your mission was started before 1.0 and now your craft simply can not survive reentry no matter what you try, you can edit the difficulty settings during the game and decrease reentry heating or switch it off altogether.
During the flight press Esc, go to Settings, click the Difficulty Options button and change the Re-Entry Heating slider.
Just remember to put it back to at least 100% after you de-orbited all your pre-1.0 vessels, or Jebediah Kerman will call you a coward behind your back.