US space agency NASA’s latest Mars Orbiter is going to land on the martian surface at the scheduled time on Sunday.
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe, popularly known as MAVEN, is scheduled to arrive at Mars around 9:50 pm EDT on Sunday (0150 GMT September 22, Monday), the NASA officials said.
According to the NASA, the spacecraft is on schedule and its handlers are also reporting no issues during the home stretch in its ten months old journey into the space.
“Mars is really growing right now as we approach, just four days away,” David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement.
“So far, the performance of the spacecraft is so good. The team, the flight system and all ground assets are ready for Mars orbit insertion,” Mitchell added.
According to Mitchell, MAVEN was about 746,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) away from the Red Planet on Wednesday.
If everything goes well as per the plan, the engines of the Mars orbiter will be fired for as long as about 33 minutes on the Sunday night.
Over the next six weeks, the team behind the mission will carry out inspection of the spacecraft’s instruments and plan the probe into its final 4.5-hour orbit. This maneuver will bring the spacecraft as close as 93 miles (150 km) to the Red Planet and as far away as 3,850 miles (6,200 km).
The main motive behind the USD 670 million MAVEN mission is to better understand the reason behind the shifting of Mars billions of years ago from a relatively warm and wet world to the cold one.
The MAVEN spacecraft was launched on November 18, 2013 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.