Maven Arrives at Mars, India’s MOM Two Days Away

Image Credit: NASA

Following a 10 month interplanetary cruise after launch from Cape Canaveral on November 18th 2013, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter arrived successfully at the Red Planet on Sunday evening.

Orbital insertion was achieved at 10:24 PM EDT, with the aid of a 33 minute burn of the six main thrusters, placing the spacecraft in a long, looping orbit which will gradually be reduced.

Part of NASA’s Mars Scout program, the MAVEN mission is designed to study Mar’s upper atmosphere, helping to understand the loss of volatiles over time, and possibly answering the question of how the planet has changed from the warm, partially wet world it once was, to the cold, arid and seemingly dead planet it is today.

Over the course of its mission, MAVEN, which is equipped with a gull wing shaped solar array designed to enhance aerodynamic stability,  will perform five “deep dip” maneuvers which will bring it within 77 miles of the planet’s surface.

MAVEN is not the only spacecraft arriving at Mars this week. India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM, is also on target for an arrival at the Red Planet. Following a successful test burn of its main engine today as part of a fourth orbital correction maneuver, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is increasingly confident that its own orbit insertion, scheduled for May 24th, will go as planned.  A success at Mars, a venue which has seen more than its share of major failures, would mark a significant advance for India’s space program, vaulting it to a leadership role as one of Earth’s primary spacefaring nations.MOM Mission Plan Credit: ISRO

MOM Mission Plan
Credit: ISRO

 

 

Posted in: India Space, Mars

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