NASA’s MAVEN Repositions To Avoid Collision With Phobos - The Moon Of Mars

By Jeff Thompson - 06 Mar '17 15:22PM

In a recent development, NASA has moved the MAVEN from its path to avoid a potential collision with Phobos, the moon of Mars. The unscheduled move of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution or MAVEN was done last week. The spacecraft is helping NASA to observe Mars from its ionosphere for the last two years.

MAVEN is a spacecraft used to study the upper atmosphere of Mars by orbiting around it. It also checks how the Mars and the Sun interact each other including how solar winds are affecting the red planet. The space agency confirmed on Feb. 28 that it accelerated the speed of the spacecraft by 0.4 meters per second using a rocket burn. Otherwise, it would have crossed the path of Phobos and collided with it. According to observations, the collision was expected on March 6, and with the current speed, it would cross the paths with a 2.5-minute difference.

"I appreciate the team of navigation and tracking at Jet Propulsion Laboratory for closely monitoring different spacecraft and its movements to warn any possible collisions," said Bruce Jakosky, the Principal investigator, and researcher of MAVEN at the University of Colorado. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA is located in Pasadena, California, and the institution is monitoring and controlling the movements of different spacecrafts. It is further revealed that it is the first time a spacecraft's movement is changed to avoid potential collision.

Phobos is an asteroid-size, lumpy moon which is very closely revolving around Mars. Interestingly, MAVEN has a long elliptical orbit, and it crosses the orbits of many other spacecraft and Phobos multiple times in a year. There is a risk that whenever the spacecraft passes other orbits, it has chances of meeting with other spacecraft and moons. The space agency stated that it will watch out for any future collision chances of this kind, and will take necessary actions to avoid any.

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