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NASA's spacecraft comes closer to Mars



An American spacecraft moved closer to Mars to act as a telecommunications relay for Mars landers and rovers after a two-month orbit tightening ended Friday.

The four-year-old spacecraft called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) according to NASA.

"It's like applying the brakes on a car, but instead of the brake pads we used. Mars' atmosphere, "said Stuart Demcak, a navigational team lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The low-altitude orbit of the spacecraft is lowered from 151 km to about 132 km above the Martian surface.

Also, the highest point in the orbit dropped from about 6,050 km to about 4,570 km, improving the MAVEN's availability for support relay Communications with NASA's landers and rovers on the surface of Mars.

Aerobraking plan for MAVEN / Photograph from NASA website

Aerobraking plan for MAVEN / Photograph from NASA website

MAVEN will continue to study the structure and composition of the upper atmosphere of Mars

The Maven, according to NASA.

(Cover photo: the four-year-old spacecraft – Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) / Photo from NASA website


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