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"Formula Mars" Spacecraft Increases Speed, Fueled by Martian Gravity
05.25.08
 
Formula Mars Spacecraft Increases Speed, Fueled by Martian Gravity



NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is on its own now, pulled toward the uppermost reaches of the Martian atmosphere at increasingly greater velocities, courtesy of the Red Planet's gravitational pull. This chart shows the spacecraft's acceleration over a distance of 75,000 miles (120,000 kilometers).

By 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time (3:30 p.m. Eastern Time), Phoenix will be traveling 8,500 miles per hour (13,700 kilometers per hour) relative to Mars. When the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere, it will be moving at 12,700 miles per hour (20,500 kilometers per hour) relative to Mars.

The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


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