MAVEN orbiting the planet Mars
(artist concept; September 21, 2014)
|Mission type||Mars atmospheric research|
|Mission duration||1 year planned|
|Launch mass||2,454 kg (5,410 lb)|
|Dry mass||809 kg (1,784 lb)|
|Payload mass||65 kg (143 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||November 18, 2013, 18:28 UTC|
|Rocket||Atlas V 401 AV-038|
|Launch site||Cape Canaveral SLC-41|
|Contractor||United Launch Alliance|
|Reference system||Areocentric (Mars)|
|Periareion||150 km (93 mi)|
|Apoareion||6,200 km (3,900 mi)|
|Orbital insertion||September 22, 2014, 02:24 UTC
MSD 50025 08:07 AMT
Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission (MAVEN) is a space probe designed to study the Martian atmosphere while orbiting Mars. Mission goals include determining how the Martian atmosphere and water, presumed to have once been substantial, were lost over time.
MAVEN was successfully launched aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle at the beginning of the first launch window on November 18, 2013. Following the first engine burn of the Centaur second stage, the vehicle coasted in low Earth orbit for 27 minutes before a second Centaur burn of five minutes to insert it into a heliocentric Mars transit orbit.
On September 22, 2014, MAVEN reached Mars and was inserted into an areocentric elliptic orbit 6,200 km (3,900 mi) by 150 km (93 mi) above the planet's surface. The principal investigator for the spacecraft is Bruce Jakosky of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The mission was spawned by NASA's Mars Scout Program, which, although discontinued in 2010, yielded Phoenix, MAVEN, and numerous missions' studies. Mars Scout missions target a cost of less than US$485 million, not including launch services, which cost approximately $187 million. The total project costs up to $671 million. 
On August 2, 2013, the MAVEN spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center Florida to begin launch preparations. NASA scheduled the launch of MAVEN from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on November 18, 2013, using an Atlas V 401 rocket. The probe arrived in Mars' orbit in September 2014, at approximately the same time as India's Mars Orbiter Mission.
On October 1, 2013, only seven weeks before launch, a government shutdown caused suspension of work for two days and initially threatened to force a 26-month postponement of the mission. With the spacecraft nominally scheduled to launch on November 18, a delay beyond December 7 would have caused MAVEN to miss the launch window as Mars moves too far out of alignment with the Earth. However, two days later, a public announcement was made that NASA had deemed the 2013 MAVEN launch so essential to ensuring future communication with current NASA assets on Mars—the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers—that emergency funding was authorized to restart spacecraft processing in preparation for an on-time launch.
On September 22, 2014, at approximately 2:24 UTC, MAVEN spacecraft entered orbit around Mars, completing an interplanetary journey of 10 months and 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).
Features on Mars that resemble dry riverbeds and the discovery of minerals that form in the presence of water indicate that Mars once had a dense enough atmosphere and was warm enough for liquid water to flow on the surface. However, that thick atmosphere was somehow lost to space. Scientists suspect that over millions of years, Mars lost 99% of its atmosphere as the planet’s core cooled and its magnetic field decayed, allowing the solar wind to sweep away most of the water and volatile compounds that the atmosphere once contained. The goal of MAVEN is to determine the history of the loss of atmospheric gases to space, providing answers about Martian climate evolution. By measuring the rate with which the atmosphere is currently escaping to space and gathering enough information about the relevant processes, scientists will be able to infer how the planet's atmosphere evolved over time. The MAVEN mission has four primary scientific objectives:
- Determine the role that loss of volatiles to space from the Martian atmosphere has played through time.
- Determine the current state of the upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interactions with the solar wind.
- Determine the current rates of escape of neutral gases and ions to space and the processes controlling them.
- Determine the ratios of stable isotopes in the Martian atmosphere.
MAVEN reached Mars and successfully maneuvered into orbit around the planet on September 21, 2014. The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite on board the Curiosity rover was scheduled to make similar surface measurements from Gale crater by that date. The data from Curiosity will help guide the interpretation of MAVEN's upper atmosphere measurements. MAVEN's measurements will also provide additional scientific context with which to test models for current methane formation in Mars.
MAVEN was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space Systems. Its design is based on those of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey spacecraft. The orbiter has a cubical shape of about 2.3 meters × 2.3 meters × 2 meters high, with two solar arrays that hold the magnetometers on both ends. The total length is 11.4 meters. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided an Electra telecommunications relay package which has a data transfer rate of up to 10 Mbit/s, but the highly elliptical orbit of the spacecraft will limit its usefulness as a relay for operating landers on the surface.
MAVEN will study Mars' upper atmosphere and its interactions with the solar wind. Its instruments will measure characteristics of Mars' atmospheric gases, upper atmosphere, and ionosphere, and the solar wind. MAVEN will perform measurements from a highly elliptical orbit over a period of one Earth year, with five "deep dips" at 150 km (93 mi) minimum altitude to sample the upper atmosphere. The University of Colorado Boulder, University of California, Berkeley, and Goddard Space Flight Center each built a suite of instruments for the spacecraft, and they include:
- Particles and Field (P&F) Package
- Built by the University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory.
- Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA) - measures solar wind and ionosphere electrons
- Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA) - measures solar wind and magnetosheath ion density and velocity
- SupraThermal And Thermal Ion Composition (STATIC) - measures thermal ions to moderate-energy escaping ions
- Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) - determines the impact of SEPs on the upper atmosphere
- Langmuir Probe and Waves (LPW) - determines ionosphere properties and wave heating of escaping ions and solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) input to atmosphere
- Magnetometer (MAG) - measures interplanetary solar wind and ionosphere magnetic fields
- Remote Sensing (RS) Package
- Built by the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
- Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer (IUVS) - measures global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere
- Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) Package
- Built by Goddard Space Flight Center
The orbiter is in Mars orbit and operational. The commissioning phase will last until the first week of November (six weeks), and then the science phase of the mission will start.
- NASA Selects 'MAVEN' Mission to Study Mars Atmosphere
- 'MAVEN' Mission PowerPoint
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- Chang, Kenneth (November 15, 2013). "Probe May Help Solve Riddle of Mars’s Missing Air". New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
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- "Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission- Aerospace/Defense". FaceBook. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- Hansen, Izumi; Zubritsky, Elizabeth (September 17, 2014). "NASA Mars Spacecraft Ready for Sept. 21 Orbit Insertion". NASA. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
- NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Makes Final Preparations For Mars
- NASA's Scout Program Discontinued.
- NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Maven Mission (October 21, 2010)
- Vergano, Dan (19 September 2014). "With NASA Probe's Arrival, International Mars Invasion Gets Under Way". National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
- "NASA’s Maven Craft Beats India’s Mangalyaan in Space Race to Mars". WSJ. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
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- "NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for MAVEN Mission". SpaceRef. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
- Elliott, Danielle (October 2, 2013). "Government shutdown could delay NASA's Mars MAVEN mission to 2017". CBS News. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
- Jakosky, Bruce (September 20, 2013). "MAVEN reactivation status update". Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
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- "MAVEN Arrives at Mars". NASA. 21 September 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-26.
- MAVEN Mission to Investigate How Sun Steals Martian Atmosphere By Bill Steigerwald (October 5, 2010)
- "NASA exec checks on Lockheed Martin’s progress on Mars vehicles". Denver Business Journal. October 15, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
- MAVEN Fact Sheet
- "Mars Methane Questions Answered". Science channel. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
- MAVEN Mission Primary Structure Complete. NASA (September 26, 2011).
- MAVEN - Facts
- "MAVEN: Answers About Mars Climate History". NASA. 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
- "The Electra Proximity Link Payload for Mars Relay Telecommunications and Navigation". NASA. September 29, 2003. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Stephen, Clark (July 27, 2014). "NASA considers commercial telecom satellites at Mars". Space Flight Now. Retrieved 2014-09-23. "It is due to arrive at Mars in September, but MAVEN's planned orbit is not ideal for collecting and sending rover data."
- "Unique Instrument Devised to Solve Mars' Atmosphere Mystery". iDigital Times. July 20, 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
- CU chosen for $485M Mars exploration project
- Mission Timeline. University of Colorado Boulder.
- "MAVEN - Instruments". University of Colorado Boulder. 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
- NASA Goddard Delivers Magnetometers for NASA's Next Mission to Mars by Nancy Neal Jones (May 21, 2012)
- "NASA's Newest Mars Mission Spacecraft Enters Orbit around Red Planet". Science Daily. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
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