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Maven spacecraft enters Mars orbit on a mission to discover planet's past

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Maven spacecraft enters Mars orbit on a mission to discover planet's past


Nasa’s Maven spacecraft has successfully entered the orbit around Mars on Sunday evening.

It has been a 700 million kilometre journey that began nearly a year ago.

For NASA staff at Cape Canaveral in the US it was a nail-biting moment, with three previous missions having failed.

Scientists hope Maven will find clues to the planet’s early history, including the possibility of it having harboured life. You can watch more about its mission here:

NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green said: “Maven will tell us a lot about how the atmosphere is evolved. This is very important because we’re here now looking at Mars from one stage in its evolution. It looked much more Earth-like billions of years ago. Climate change occurred on Mars and we want to know what happened.”

The red planet is covered with ancient river channels and lake beds. Scientists want to know why it went from being warm and wet billions of years ago to cold and dry.

Unlike the Curiosity rover, Maven won’t actually land on Mars. Curiosity arrived on the red planet in 2012 and has spent two years driving and drilling.

Ahead of Maven’s arrival, the Curiosity rover tweeted this:

And of course, Maven itself is busy tweeting :

The Maven spacecraft will spend at least a year collecting data.

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