Space Mars probe MAVEN spent 3 months on the brink of disaster

(ORDO NEWS) — A navigation system failure that hit NASA’s MAVEN interplanetary station in early 2022 undermined the spacecraft’s ability to conduct scientific research and study the atmosphere of the Red Planet.

The MAVEN probe has been orbiting Mars since 2014, and on February 22 of this year, it went into “safe mode” when its inertial measurement units began to exhibit anomalous behavior, NASA officials said.

While in “safe mode”, the spacecraft turned off all scientific instruments. In the following months, the space agency managed to get MAVEN out of “safe mode” but with limited capabilities.

During this period, it could not serve as a relay satellite for the InSight lander and the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers.

Thus, the three-month failure of the spacecraft meant not only a reduction in the receipt of scientific data from MAVEN, but also an overall reduction in scientific research on Mars.

Space Mars probe MAVEN spent 3 months on the brink of disaster 2
MAVEN space probe, artwork

After more than three months of inactivity, MAVEN finally returned to its normal operation on May 28, 2022. NASA previously assumed the probe would be operational until 2025, but the agency has now said it wants to use MAVEN’s relay capabilities during a planned mission to return soil samples that Perseverance collects on Mars. This mission is currently scheduled for 2033.

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