[meteorite-list] MAVEN on Track to Carry Out its Science Mission

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2014 10:14:31 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201402051814.s15IEVQO017462_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


MAVEN on Track to Carry Out its Science Mission
Nancy Neal Jones
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
February 4, 2014

The MAVEN spacecraft and all of its science instruments have completed
their initial checkout, and all of them are working as expected. This
means that MAVEN is on track to carry out its full science mission as
originally planned.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission is designed
to explore Mars' upper atmosphere. It will determine the role that escape
of gas from the atmosphere to space has played in changing the climate
throughout the planet's history. MAVEN was launched on Nov. 18, 2013,
and will go into orbit around Mars on the evening of Sept. 21, 2014 (10
p.m. EDT).

After a five-week commissioning phase in orbit, during which it will get
into its science-mapping orbit, deploy its booms, and do a final checkout
of the science instruments, it will carry out a one-Earth-year mission.
It will observe the structure and composition of the upper atmosphere,
determine the rate of escape of gas to space today and the processes controlling
it, and make measurements that will allow it to determine the total amount
of gas lost to space over time.

"Successful checkout of the spacecraft and instruments is a major milestone
in carrying out our mission," said Dr. Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal
investigator from the University of Colorado in Boulder. "While there
are still a lot of things that have to happen properly before we get to
Mars and can do the mission's science, we are exactly where we need to
be today."

Upcoming events in the next month include additional instrument testing
and spacecraft calibrations, first testing of the Electra communications
package that will be used to relay data from the rovers currently on the
surface of Mars, and the second planned trajectory correction maneuver.
This maneuver will adjust the spacecraft's path by a very small amount
so that it will be positioned properly for the rocket-motor burn that
will put it into orbit when it arrives at Mars.

"The performance of the spacecraft and instruments to date bears out all
the hard work the team put into testing the system while it was on the
ground," said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The way that the operations team
has performed while flying the system has been nothing short of outstanding.
We have big events ahead of us before we can claim success but I am very
pleased with how things have gone thus far."

By 7 p.m. EST on Feb. 4, MAVEN will have traveled 136,949,317 miles (220,398,984
km). MAVEN will travel about 442 million miles (712 million km) on its
path to Mars. MAVEN is currently traveling in its transfer orbit around
the sun at a speed of 69,480 mph or 31.06 kps.

MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado
at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The university
provided science instruments and leads science operations, and education
and public outreach. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the project
and provided two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed
Martin of Littleton, Colo., built the spacecraft and is responsible for
mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley Space Sciences
Laboratory provided science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, the Deep
Space Network, and the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

Nancy Neal Jones
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Received on Wed 05 Feb 2014 01:14:31 PM PST

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