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Technologies of Broad Benefit: Propulsion

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A black space background features a diagram explaining the dynamic relationship between Earth, Mars and the Sun.  Colored lines represent how the spacecraft's trajectory must line up with the 'moving target,' Mars.

Improving precision navigation

Navigators had to act like "quarterbacks" in the sense that they have to aim for a moving target: where Mars is going to be when it's time to land, not where it is at launch. Football players understand this physics in every pass they make. The rovers' cruise through space took approximately 7 months. This image shows the position of Earth and Mars at both launch and arrival of each rover. The green line shows the spacecraft's trajectory.

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