Aerobraking completato per Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Successfully Concludes Aerobraking
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
August 30, 2006

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 comes to the planet) is about 210 kilometers
(130 miles) above the planet, well above the atmosphere.

“Aerobraking has changed the course of the spacecraft from
just over 35 hours per orbit to just under two hours per
orbit and it has saved us roughly 600 kilograms of fuel,”
said Dan Johnston, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Deputy
Mission Manager. “Getting out of aerobraking was a
phenomenal moment and everyone on the flight teams has
done a fantastic job to get us where we need to be for
science acquisition.”

The next step for the spacecraft will be two additional
orbit adjustments to put the orbiter in the ideal path to
begin gathering the most detailed scientific data yet
from the red planet. The mission’s main science
observations are scheduled to begin in November, after a
period of transitional deployments and tests, then three
weeks of intermittent communications while Mars passes
nearly behind the sun.

Quando ESA o NASA si decideranno a tentare un bel aerogravity assist?? :grinning: