NASA’s Maven explorer arrives at Mars after year

In this November 18, 2013 file photo, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft onboard an Atlas 5 rocket lifts off from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo courtesy: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

The Maven spacecraft arrived at the red planet late Sunday night after a 442 million-mile (700 million kilometer) journey that began nearly a year ago.

NASA confirmed that the robotic explorer slipped into Martian orbit as planned.

Now the real work begins for the $671 million mission.

Flight controllers will spend the next six weeks adjusting Maven’s altitude and checking its science instruments. Then Maven will start probing the Martian upper atmosphere. The spacecraft will conduct its observations from orbit; it’s not meant to land.

Scientists believe the Martian atmosphere holds clues as to how Earth’s neighbor went from being warm and wet billions of years ago to cold and dry. That early moist world may have harbored microbial life, a tantalizing question yet to be answered.

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
Top