NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft prepares for orbital insertion

Mission operators working from NASA are undergoing final adjustments for orbital insertion of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft, due to take place September 21. Achieving a stable orbit around the Red Planet would be the culmination of a 10-month voyage, during which the robotic explorer traveled 442 million miles.
MAVEN represents the first Mars orbiter designed for the sole purpose of observing how the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere interacts with solar winds emanating from our Sun. The orbiter will make the necessary observations via an array of eight scientific instruments designed to collect a comprehensive set of measurements on the Martian atmosphere. It is hoped that these observations will shed light on the processes that stripped the planet of most of its atmosphere, whilst also granting an insight into the climate, the presence of liquid water and ultimately the habitability of ancient Mars.