Saturday, March 4, 2017

O/T Interplanetary Voyaging: At Least Occasionally, "Steering Clear" Is The Wisest Course, It Seems...

It may not happen very often, but occasionally, the orbits of things natural, and things human engineered do get tangled. . . even in the mostly empty space of. . . space.

We read, with a smile, of the successful engine burn, to slow the Maven's speed (relative to Mars, and increase it, relative to Phobos) by just a tic, since rocky bodies like Phobos can do much damage to those graceful, copper colored, twisty solar power cell filaments -- of an orbiter. Here's the story, from Friday:

. . . .NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. . . maneuvered out of the path of Phobos earlier this week after navigators predicted the spacecraft could run into the Martian moon in the near future, highlighting the challenge of tracking an international fleet of Mars probes set to double in size by 2021.

The MAVEN orbiter, in its third year studying the Martian atmosphere, performed a minor rocket burn Feb. 28 to change its speed by less than 1 mph (0.4 meters per second), NASA said, tweaking its trajectory enough to dodge a projected collision with Phobos a week later.

On its new path, MAVEN will miss the irregularly-shaped moon by around two-and-a-half minutes. The rocket burn was MAVEN’s first collision avoidance maneuver to move out of the way of Phobos, NASA said. . . .

And, here is a haiku from a few years past -- one that traveled on board Maven to Mars, from one student's submission -- one of thousands -- one that now seems rather prophetic:

"Mars, your secret is
unknown for humanity
we want to know you...

Now you know. We do. . . want to know you. And, while we aren't entirely sure how this tangling occurred, we are committed to trying to un-entangle it. . . very soon. Smile. G'night.


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