Mars mission with rover said on course

March 28, 2012 at 5:57 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., March 28 (UPI) -- NASA says its Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft has successfully adjusted its flight path for delivery of the rover Curiosity to the Red Planet in August.

Halfway to Mars, the spacecraft ignited its thrusters for nearly 9 minutes Monday in the second of six planned trajectory correction maneuvers, the space agency reported.

Spacecraft data in radio signals from the craft, monitored at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., showed the maneuver to be successful, NASA said.

"It is satisfying to get the second maneuver under our belts and know we are headed in the right direction," JPL's Erisa Hines said. "The cruise system continues to perform very well."

The mission launched Nov. 26 and the rover will land on Mars Aug. 5.

"We are now on a trajectory that will put us much closer to the point we want to hit on Aug. 5," Tomas Martin-Mur, navigation team chief for the mission, said.

Curiosity's landing site is near the base of a mountain inside Gale Crater, near the martian equator, where the rover will study layers in the mountain for evidence of early wet environments on Mars.

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