|An artist's concept of MAVEN in orbit around Mars|
(Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center).
NASA’s latest Mars mission will arrive at the Red Planet this Sunday after travelling 442 million miles during its 10-month journey. The spacecraft will study Mars from orbit in the hopes of answering the question: If Mars once had an atmosphere capable of sustaining liquid water at its surface, what happened to it?
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft, or MAVEN for short, is NASA’s latest mission to study the Red Planet. It’s the first spacecraft sent specifically to study upper atmosphere of Mars. It’s job is to examine the composition, structure and escape of gases in the upper atmosphere of Mars, and to study how it interacts with the solar wind.
“So far, so good with the performance of the spacecraft and payloads on the cruise to Mars,” according to MAVEN project manager David Mitchell, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The team, the flight system, and all ground assets are ready for Mars orbit insertion.”
The spacecraft is expected to begin orbital insertion at approximately 9:50 p.m. EDT Sunday, when it will fire its engines for 33 minutes to manoeuvre the spacecraft into a 35-hour elliptical orbit around Mars. The spacecraft will later be moved into a 4.5-hour science orbit.
Links: Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN
Have a look at NASA television for Maven arrival HERE.
Please have a read on Universe Today for more information on The NASA new spacecraft to Mars, MAVEN!
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