Preventing a collision with Mars moon

#NASA #Mars #MAVEN #satellite #space #Earth

According to computer models, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter was expected to miss Mar’s moon Phobos by just 7 seconds on March 6th.

However, considering this too great a risk for the $671 million orbiter, the mission controllers fired its rocket engine enough to increase its velocity by 0.4 meters per second, which in turn changed the time period to 2.5 minutes between the orbiter and satellite Phobos. Maneuvers like this will  likely become more common as the traffic to Mars increases.

Since most objects on such collision courses are too fast for the human eye, and hence orbital models are used to predict a close pass, which in turn provides a warning to the satellite operator or operators involved.

Mars currently has only six spacecraft orbiting it, whereas Earth has more than 1,400 operational man-made satellites. Many of these Earth Satellites are CubeSats with dimensions of 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm. Such satellites are hard to control and track, which might possess a problem in the future if the number keeps on increasing.

Read the full article here.

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