Washington : The Phoenix Mars Lander has completed the first and largest of the six course corrections planned during its flight from earth to Mars, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said.
Phoenix left earth Aug 4, bound for a challenging May 25, 2008 touchdown at a site farther north than any previous Mars landing.
It will robotically dig to underground ice and run laboratory tests assessing whether the site could ever have been hospitable to microbial life.
On Friday, Phoenix was travelling at about 33,180 meters per second in relation to the sun. The first trajectory-correction manoeuvre was calculated to tweak the velocity by about 18.5 meters per second.
The spacecraft fired its four thrusters for three minutes and 17 seconds to adjust its trajectory.
“All the subsystems are functioning as expected with few deviations from predicted performance,” said Joe Guinn, Phoenix mission system manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Key activities in the next few weeks will include checkouts of science instruments, radar and the communication system that will be used during and after the landing.