Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

September 17, 2014

A NASA mission to Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder is set to slide into orbit around the red planet this week after a 10-month, 442-million mile chase through the inner solar system. 

MAVEN is designed to target the role the loss of played in changing the climate there over the eons. Clues on the Martian surface, including features resembling dry lakes and riverbeds suggest Mars once had a dense atmosphere that supported liquid water.

The MAVEN science mission focuses on answering questions about what happened to the water and carbon dioxide present in the Mars system several billion years ago, said Professor Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. These are important questions for understanding the history of Mars, its climate and its potential to support at least microbial life.

The orbit-insertion maneuver will begin with six thruster engines firing to shed some of the velocity from the spacecraft. The thruster engines will ignite and burn for 33 minutes to slow the spacecraft, allowing it to be captured into orbit around Mars.

Explore further: Colliding atmospheres: Mars vs Comet Siding Spring

Related Stories

MAVEN on track to carry out its science mission

February 4, 2014

The MAVEN spacecraft and all of its science instruments have completed their initial checkout, and all of them are working as expected. This means that MAVEN is on track to carry out its full science mission as originally ...

Sputtering: How mars may have lost its atmosphere

September 13, 2012

Why is Mars cold and dry? While some recent studies hint that early Mars may have never been wet or warm, many scientists think that long ago, Mars once had a denser atmosphere that supported liquid water on the surface. ...

Final MAVEN instrument integrated to spacecraft

April 3, 2013

(Phys.org) —An instrument that will measure the composition of Mars' upper atmosphere has been integrated to NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft. MAVEN has a scheduled launch date of Nov. 18.

Recommended for you

NASA telescope studies quirky comet 45P

November 22, 2017

When comet 45P zipped past Earth early in 2017, researchers observing from NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility, or IRTF, in Hawai'i gave the long-time trekker a thorough astronomical checkup. The results help fill in crucial ...

Uncovering the origins of galaxies' halos

November 21, 2017

Using the Subaru Telescope atop Maunakea, researchers have identified 11 dwarf galaxies and two star-containing halos in the outer region of a large spiral galaxy 25 million light-years away from Earth. The findings, published ...

Cassini image mosaic: A farewell to Saturn

November 21, 2017

In a fitting farewell to the planet that had been its home for over 13 years, the Cassini spacecraft took one last, lingering look at Saturn and its splendid rings during the final leg of its journey and snapped a series ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.