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Latest Aerobraking Stories

Mars Odyssey Orbiter Goes Into Standby Safe Mode
2012-06-10 04:45:32

NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter put itself into a precautionary standby status early Friday, June 8, Universal Time (Thursday evening, Pacific Time), when the spacecraft detected unexpected characteristics in movement of one of its reaction wheels. The spacecraft uses three of these wheels as the primary method for adjusting and maintaining its orientation.  It carries a spare reaction wheel. Odyssey's flight team is in communication with the spacecraft while planning actions in response...

2011-07-27 09:39:10

The MESSENGER spacecraft continued to fine-tune its orbit around Mercury yesterday afternoon when mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., successfully executed the second orbit-correction maneuver of the mission. The 3-minute, 8-second engine burn stretched the spacecraft's orbit around the innermost planet from 11 hours 48 minutes to a precise 12 hours. This second of an expected five maneuvers planned for the mission's primary...

2011-07-19 15:28:00

PHOENIX, July 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Members of KinetX's technical staff are advancing the state-of-the-art of mission design and navigation for deep space missions by participating in the upcoming Astrodynamics Specialist Conference (July 31-August 4, 2011) in Girdwood, Alaska, which is organized by the American Astronautical Society (AAS) Space Flight Mechanics Committee and co-sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Astrodynamics Technical...

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2009-05-04 06:35:00

With space becoming increasingly more crowded, scientists are turning to "sails" to help satellites and other orbiting space objects return more rapidly to Earth.  Researchers hope the approach will help minimize the number of redundant objects in orbit, thereby reducing collision threats to operational missions. Extending a sail on an old spacecraft would increase its drag, pulling the vehicle back in to the Earth's atmosphere to burn up. It's a concept with great potential, said...

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2008-07-17 08:15:00

Starting this week, spacecraft controllers have been executing a series of maneuvers to gradually bring Venus Express closer to its host planet. In its modified orbit, the spacecraft will be able to observe unexplored regions and investigate phenomena that were not within its reach before. The operational maneuvers to bring the spacecraft closer will be executed through the month of July, settling it into its new orbit by 4 August. Until now, Venus Express has occupied a highly eccentric...

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2006-09-12 22:05:00

JPL - NASA's newest spacecraft at Mars has completed the challenging half-year task of shaping its orbit to the nearly circular, low-altitude pattern from which it will scrutinize the planet. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter fired its six intermediate-size thrusters for 12.5 minutes Monday afternoon, Sept. 11, shifting the low point of its orbit to stay near the Martian south pole and the high point to stay near the north pole.  The altitude of the orbit ranges from 250 kilometers (155...

2006-08-31 07:33:12

Nearly six months after it entered orbit, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has concluded its aerobraking phase. The spacecraft had been dipping in and out of the Red Planet's atmosphere to adjust its orbit. On August 30, 2006, during its 445th orbit, the spacecraft fired its intermediate thrusters to raise the low point of its orbit and stop dipping into the atmosphere. The six-minute engine burn began at 10:36 a.m. PST, altering the spacecraft's course so that its periapsis (the closest it...

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2006-06-19 18:31:27

NASA's newest spacecraft at Mars has already cut the size and duration of each orbit by more than half, just 11 weeks into a 23-week process of shrinking its orbit. By other indicators, the lion's share of the job lies ahead. "The orbits are getting shorter and shorter. We've finished about 80 of them so far, but we have about 400 more to go, and the pace really quickens toward the end," said Dan Johnston, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter deputy mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion...

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2006-04-13 15:18:38

Researchers today released the first Mars images from two of the three science cameras on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Images taken by the orbiter's Context Camera and Mars Color Imager during the first tests of those instruments at Mars confirm the performance capability of the cameras. The test images were taken from nearly 10 times as far from the planet as the spacecraft will be once it finishes reshaping its orbit. Test images from the third camera of the science payload were...

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2006-03-31 17:19:04

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter yesterday began a crucial six-month campaign to gradually shrink its orbit into the best geometry for the mission's science work. Three weeks after successfully entering orbit around Mars, the spacecraft is in a phase called "aerobraking." This process uses friction with the tenuous upper atmosphere to transform a very elongated 35-hour orbit to the nearly circular two-hour orbit needed for the mission's science observations. The orbiter has been flying...