NASA’s Mars MAVEN spacecraft spent 3 months on the brink of disaster

A daunting, three-hour presentation to NASA leadership about the MAVEN Mars orbiter’s future was supposed to be the biggest challenge for the mission team early this year. But just as the presentation was going smoothly on Earth, the spacecraft itself was in serious trouble millions of miles away.

As she finished leading the presentation on that February day, Shannon Curry, recently appointed principal investigator for the MAVENE mission, felt confident about the team’s work making the case that the Mars mission should continue at least three more years, an argument based on six months of exhaustive work from the team.

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