The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft has now been in the red planet’s orbit for a full year.
After a two-month checkout phase, the probe began studying Mars’ atmosphere, attempting to determine the speed that Mars’ air is escaping into space.
NASA says this data will help scientists understand how and when Mars went from warm and wet to cold and dry.
MAVEN can also function as a communications link, relaying between rovers on Mars and technicians on Earth.
Image credit: NASA/Goddard
A year into its work, the probe is functioning well with all key systems and instruments in good shape.
The solar-powered spacecraft is as long as a school bus and weighs as much as a large 4-wheel-drive car.
In October 2014, MAVEN came close to disaster when Comet Siding Spring zoomed close to the surface of Mars.