Lockheed Martin and NASA have confirmedÂ that the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft has entered Mars’ orbitÂ as theyÂ prepare for MAVEN’sÂ primary mission to collect data on gases inÂ the planet’s upper atmosphere.
NASA said SundayÂ that the team used dataÂ from Lockheed’s Colorado operations center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s California navigation facilityÂ to confirmÂ orbit insertion.
MAVEN, which Lockheed built, will then undergoÂ a six-month commissioning phase before the primary missionÂ starts.
Charles BoldenÂ , NASA administrator, said MAVEN will work toÂ “improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet.”
“It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.”
MAVENÂ will carry outÂ five “deep dip campaigns” toÂ develop a full profile of Mars’ upper atmosphere for the science mission.
The company, NASA and other government and academic partners have preparedÂ for MAVEN to enter Martian orbit as the spacecraft approached the end of a 10-month interplanetary mission.