NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN), which is in its second year of studying the Red Planet's atmosphere, was recently forced to perform unscheduled maneuver to avert a space-wreck.
In its first collision avoidance maneuver, MAVEN spacecraft carried out a rocket motor burn that boosted its velocity by 0.4 meters per second (less than 1 mile per hour) to steer clear of Mars' moon Phobos, NASA reported.
The correction was small, but it was enough for the spacecraft to avoid the crater-filled moon by about 2.5 minutes.
MAVEN, with an elliptical orbit around Mars, has an orbit that crosses those of other spacecraft and the moon Phobos many times over the course of a year. When the orbits cross, the objects have the possibility of colliding if they arrive at that intersection at the same time.
These scenarios are known well in advance and are carefully monitored by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, which sounded the alert regarding the possibility of a collision....