Over the past four years cosmicMAVEN apparatus carefully studied the atmosphere of Mars. All this time, he flew at a distance of 6,196 km from the surface of the planet, but in 2020 he will take on an additional task, for which she needs to go lower. The highest point of the elliptical orbit of the apparatus will be from 6400 to 4500 kilometers - this will allow it to become a repeater of signals from the Mars 2020 rover to the ground mission control center.
To reduce its speed, the unit willperform an aerodynamic deceleration maneuver called aerobraking. This means that MAVEN will periodically collide with the atmosphere of the planet and lose speed. Such an approach will allow it to save fuel - it is expected that with reasonable use it will be enough right up to the year 2030.
Approaching the planet, the device will makearound it is much more revolutions - 5.3 times a day instead of the previous 6.8 times. Because of this, he will be able to more often contact with the apparatus of the Mars 2020 and transmit information to Earth. The proximity of the satellite to the rover is necessary for the connection to be most reliable. It is noteworthy that with all this he will not stop his research mission and will continue to study the properties of the planet.
This is similar to the use of a mobile phone - the closer you are to the cell phone tower, the stronger the signal.
Bruce Yakoski, Principal Investigator, MAVEN
It is expected that the aerobracking maneuver will becontinue for the next two and a half months. During this time, he will be able to fly around the planet about 360 times, slightly slowing down with each contact with the atmosphere. Despite all the complexity, this maneuver is the best way to slow down the vehicle with minimal fuel consumption.
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