Thursday, March 09, 2006

Closer to Mars!

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter zooms in on Mars and on Friday, March 10 MRO will insert into Mars orbit.

The sequence began Tuesday and will culminate with firing the craft's main thrusters for about 27 minutes on Friday -- a foot on the brakes to reduce velocity by about 20 percent as the spacecraft swings around Mars at about 5,000 meters per second (about 11,000 miles per hour). Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, are monitoring the events closely.

"We have been preparing for years for the critical events the spacecraft must execute on Friday," said JPL's Jim Graf, project manager. "By all indications, we're in great shape to succeed, but Mars has taught us never to get overconfident. Two of the last four orbiters NASA sent to Mars did not survive final approach."

Times are Eastern:
Arrival at Mars
Mar. 10
Pre-arrival briefing: 12 p.m.
Orbit insertion coverage:
3:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Post-arrival briefing: 7:30 p.m.
Link for NASA Live Coverage here.

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