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After harrowing 10-month trek, NASA's Maven orbits Mars

Sharon Gaudin | Sept. 23, 2014
After 10 months and 442 million miles, NASA's Maven spacecraft has reached Mars and entered into its orbit.

"This was a very big day for Maven," said David Mitchell, Maven project manager, in a statement. "We're very excited to join the constellation of spacecraft in orbit at Mars and on the surface of the Red Planet. The commissioning phase will keep the operations team busy for the next six weeks, and then we'll begin, at last, the science phase of the mission. Congratulations to the team for a job well done today."

Along with two orbiters — Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter — NASA also has two robotic rovers, Opportunity and Curiosity, at work on the Martian surface.

Grunsfeld noted that the study of Mars is an international effort, as NASA works with international partners on its various robotic explorers. He noted that the Indian Space Research Organization also has a spacecraft closing in on Mars.

Launched in early November, the Indian spacecraft is expected to enter orbit around Mars on Wednesday. Its mission is to study the Martian surface and atmosphere.

The Indian Space Research Organization reported on its website that it is uploading commands for a trajectory correction maneuver and succesfully test fired its main liquid engine in preparation for reaching Mars and slipping into its orbit.

"Our journey to Mars is a worldwide issue," said Grunsfeld. "This is going to be phenomenal."


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