With NASA Probe's Arrival, International Mars Invasion Gets Under Way
NASA's MAVEN is entering Mars orbit, kicking off a rush of countries putting their own robots and orbiters on the planet.
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission (MAVEN) is scheduled to enter Mars orbit Sunday night after a ten-month journey. The $671 million mission joins NASA's two robotic rovers on the surface and two orbiters circling Mars, plus the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. (Read "Visions of Mars" in National Geographic magazine.)
That's if nothing goes wrong, of course—the red planet also holds the wreckage of NASA's Mars Polar Lander and Europe's Beagle 2, reminders of the history of Mars mission mishaps: Roughly half of all spacecraft sent to the planet have crashed or gone off course.
Undeterred, a host of nations are planning or contemplating more trips to Mars. And then there's space entrepreneur