The cruise phase began soon after separation from the launch vehicle when the spacecraft completed the launch phase. Cruise ended when the spacecraft was 45 days from entry into the Martian atmosphere, when the approach phase began.

Major activities during the cruise phase

  • health checks and maintenance of the spacecraft in its cruise configuration

  • 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

  • preparation for entry, descent, and landing and surface operations, including communication tests used during entry, descent, and landing