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Cruise

This is an artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft during its cruise phase between launch and final approach to Mars.
Mars Science Laboratory Spacecraft During Cruise, Artist's Concept
This is an artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft during its cruise phase between launch and final approach to Mars.

The cruise phase begins soon after separation from the launch vehicle when the spacecraft completes the launch phase. Cruise ends when the spacecraft is 45 days from entry into the Martian atmosphere, when the approach phase begins.

Major activities during the cruise phase

  • monitoring and calibration of the spacecraft and subsystems
  • attitude correction turns (spins to maintain the antenna pointing toward Earth for communications and to keep the solar panels pointed toward the Sun for power)
  • navigation activities, including trajectory correction maneuvers, for determining and correcting the vehicle´s flight path and for training navigators prior to approach

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