[meteorite-list] MAVEN Spacecraft Ready for Sept. 21 Orbit Insertion
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:01:22 -0700 (PDT)
NASA Mars Spacecraft Ready for Sept. 21 Orbit Insertion
Izumi Hansen and Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
September 17, 2014
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is
nearing its scheduled Sept. 21 insertion into Martian orbit after
completing a 10-month interplanetary journey of 442 million miles (711
Flight Controllers at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton,
Colorado, will be responsible for the health and safety of the
spacecraft throughout the process. The spacecraft's mission timeline
will place the spacecraft in orbit at approximately 6:50 p.m. PDT (9:50
"So far, so good with the performance of the spacecraft and payloads on
the cruise to Mars," said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "The team,
the flight system, and all ground assets are ready for Mars orbit
The orbit-insertion maneuver will begin with the brief firing of six
small thruster engines to steady the spacecraft. The engines will ignite
and burn for 33 minutes to slow the craft, allowing it to be pulled into
an elliptical orbit with a period of 35 hours.
Following orbit insertion, MAVEN will begin a six-week commissioning
phase that includes maneuvering the spacecraft into its final orbit and
testing its instruments and science-mapping commands. Thereafter, MAVEN
will begin its one-Earth-year primary mission to take measurements of
the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars' upper atmosphere
and its interaction with the sun and solar wind.
"The MAVEN science mission focuses on answering questions about where
did the water that was present on early Mars go, about where did the
carbon dioxide go," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator
from the University of Colorado, Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric
and Space Physics. "These are important questions for understanding the
history of Mars, its climate, and its potential to support at least
MAVEN launched Nov. 18, 2013, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying
three instrument packages. It is the first spacecraft dedicated to
exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars. The mission's combination of
detailed measurements at specific points in Mars' atmosphere and global
imaging provides a powerful tool for understanding the properties of the
Red Planet's upper atmosphere.
"MAVEN is another NASA robotic scientific explorer that is paving the
way for our journey to Mars," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary
Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Together, robotics
and humans will pioneer the Red Planet and the solar system to help
answer some of humanity's fundamental questions about life beyond Earth."
The spacecraft's principal investigator is based at the Laboratory for
Atmospheric and Space Physics at University of Colorado, Boulder. The
university provided two science instruments and leads science
operations, as well as education and public outreach, for the mission.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the
project and also provided two science instruments for the mission.
Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission
operations. The Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of
California at Berkeley provided four science instruments for MAVEN.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, provides
navigation and Deep Space Network support, and Electra
telecommunications relay hardware and operations. JPL manages the Mars
Exploration Program for NASA.
To learn more about the MAVEN mission, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/maven and http://mars.nasa.gov/maven/
Received on Wed 17 Sep 2014 07:01:22 PM PDT