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NASA’s spacecraft enters Mars’ orbit

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission) spacecraft arrived on Mars late Sunday, two days ahead of India’s Mangalyaan’s scheduled arrival.

MAVEN reached after a 442 million-mile (711 million kilometre) journey that began nearly a year ago.

NASA said MAVEN was the first mission devoted to exploring Mars’ upper atmosphere in an effort to solve its climate mystery. Over the next six weeks, MAVEN would be placed into its science-mapping orbit and commissioned for data collection.

Unlike Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), which developed Mangalyaan’s entire system internally, MAVEN was jointly constructed by Lockheed Martin; the University of Colorado, Boulder; the University of California, Berkley; and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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MAVEN, formally announced on September 15, 2008, is designed to study changes to the Martian atmosphere. Originating from the Mars Scout Program, MAVEN was chosen above 20 other mission proposals for funding for a 2013 mission to the red planet.

Nasa launched MAVEN last November from Cape Canaveral, the 10th US mission sent to orbit the red planet. Three earlier ones failed, and until the official word came of success late on Sunday night, the entire team was on edge.

The other interesting point is that while MAVEN’s mission cost $ 671 million, Isro’s Mars Orbiter Mission cost only $ 69 million. The time taken to build MAVEN was about five years and for Mangalyaan, it was only 18 months.

The other interesting point is, while MAVEN’s mission costed $ 671 million, Isro’s MOM costed only $ 69 million. The time took to build MAVEN was about five yeas and for Mangalyaan it was only 18 months.


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