Speed Reads

mission to mars

NASA's MAVEN successfully enters Martian orbit

After traveling 442 million miles over the past 10 months, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft made it to the red planet.

Late Sunday night, MAVEN (short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) entered Mars' orbit; it was traveling more than 10,000 mph when it started the orbital insertion, which took 30 minutes. "I think my heart's about ready to start again," Bruce Jakosky, the MAVEN's chief investigator, told The Associated Press. "All I can say at this point is, 'We're in orbit at Mars, guys!'"

MAVEN's mission is to study the upper atmosphere of Mars, and for the next six weeks, flight controllers will adjust the MAVEN's altitude and check its instruments. In November, it will begin probing the upper atmosphere, and is expected to remain in orbit for at least another year.

Scientists are hoping to gain some insight into how Mars went from being a warm and wet place billions of years ago to the cold and dry planet it is today.