Humans have been obsessed with Mars for centuries and for good reason. What exactly makes Mars so great, and who’s going to get there first?
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Why Go to Mars?
“Mars has a 24-hour day. It has polar ice caps. Its axis is tilted compared with its orbit, just as Earth is tilted on its axis. That means Mars goes through seasons, just like Earth. Mars, as cold as it is, is not as oppressive an environment as almost any other place we can think of going in the Solar System. ”
The Tricky Task of Aerobraking at Mars
“Round and round it goes, and where it ends up is a matter of aerobraking for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA’s newest spacecraft to explore the red planet.
Aerobraking is ‘science friction’–that is, using the friction of the thin martian atmosphere to slow the orbiter. Mission officials keep an eye on things like glide slope, drag passes and pop-ups while also watching the weather and looking out for other spacecraft.”
NASA Suspends 2016 Launch of InSight Mission to Mars
“After thorough examination, NASA managers have decided to suspend the planned March 2016 launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission. The decision follows unsuccessful attempts to repair a leak in a section of the prime instrument in the science payload.”
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