The spacecraft, dubbed the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN), slowed down gradually by aerobraking
, a process that takes advantage of the Martian upper atmosphere to place a small amount of drag on the spacecraft, according to NASA.
It arrived at Mars on 19 October that year, and spent over a year demonstrating the aerobraking
technique needed to reach its science orbit, starting its prime mission at the end of April 2018.
In 2019, engineers will initiate an aerobraking
manoeuvre by skimming the spacecraft through Mars' upper atmosphere to slow it.
Accurate navigation allows the immediate entry of a spacecraft into a planet's atmosphere, which requires an extremely accurate entry angle, thereby taking advantage of aerobraking
and avoiding the fuel-consuming process of orbit insertion.
As shown in Figure 1, the probe enters the atmosphere along the hyperbolic orbit and then slows down thanks to aerobraking
. If the velocity decrement is appropriate, the probe will fly out of the atmosphere and be an orbiter, but when the perigee is still below the atmosphere at the moment, a correction maneuver must be carried out to raise the perigee when arriving at the apogee.
will use the atmosphere to adjust the orbit gradually by 'aerobraking
In June and July of last year we performed a series of "aerobraking
" experiments, lowering the orbit to an altitude of 80 miles (130 kilometers), well into the thin uppermost atmosphere.
If the target is a low Venus orbit, orbit lowering needs additional 3.0 km/s or alternatively propellantless gradual aerobraking
. An E-sail could do any or all of these manoeuvres with no propellant consumption.
On our way to the airfield we briefed for the HI-ILS RWY 23 (previously briefed on the boat), the SHIP-TO-SHORE checklist, as well as ashore particulars regarding carrier pressurized tires and aerobraking
Joiner, "Application of horizon sensor measurements in Kalman filtering techniques for on-board orbit navigation during aerobraking
," Circuits, Systems, and Signal Processing, vol.
The one-ton lander was the heaviest yet to reach Mars, and following the usual aerobraking
procedure it deployed a 16 metre wide parachute (cover and Figure 1) prior to being gently lowered to the surface by a cable suspended from a rocket.