MAVEN Spacecraft Collision with Phobos Avoided

IAS Prelims 2023

NASA’s Mars-orbiting MAVEN spacecraft was forced to perform a manoeuvre to avoid a head on collision with Mars’ moon Phobos.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft has been orbiting Mars for over two years, studying the red planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and their interactions with the sun and solar wind.

This is the first collision avoidance manoeuvre that the MAVEN spacecraft has performed at Mars to steer clear of Phobos.

The orbits of both MAVEN and Phobos are known well-enough that this timing difference ensures that they will not collide. MAVEN has an orbit that crosses those of other spacecraft and the moon Phobos many times over the course of a year.