[meteorite-list] NASA's Newest Mars Mission Spacecraft Enters Orbit around Red Planet (MAVEN)

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2014 21:02:13 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201409220402.s8M42Doe008124_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


NASA's Newest Mars Mission Spacecraft Enters Orbit around Red Planet
September 21, 2014

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully
entered Mars' orbit at 7:24 p.m. PDT (10:24 p.m. EDT) Sunday, Sept. 21,
where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet's upper atmosphere as
never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring
the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

"As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars' upper atmosphere, MAVEN
will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere,
how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the
evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet,"
said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "It also will better inform a
future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s."

After a 10-month journey, confirmation of successful orbit insertion was
received from MAVEN data observed at the Lockheed Martin operations center
in Littleton, Colorado, as well as from tracking data monitored at NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory navigation facility in Pasadena, California.
The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA's Deep Space Network
antenna station in Canberra, Australia.

"NASA has a long history of scientific discovery at Mars and the safe
arrival of MAVEN opens another chapter," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut
and associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate at
the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "Maven will complement NASA's
other Martian robotic explorers-and those of our partners around the globe-to
answer some fundamental questions about Mars and life beyond Earth."

Following orbit insertion, MAVEN will begin a six-week commissioning phase
that includes maneuvering into its final science orbit and testing the
instruments and

science-mapping commands. MAVEN then will begin its one Earth-year primary
mission, taking measurements of the composition, structure and escape
of gases in Mars' upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and
solar wind.

"It's taken 11 years from the original concept for MAVEN to now having
a spacecraft in orbit at Mars," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator
with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University
of Colorado, Boulder (CU/LASP). "I'm delighted to be here safely and successfully,
and looking forward to starting our science mission."

The primary mission includes five "deep-dip" campaigns, in which MAVEN's
periapsis, or lowest orbit altitude, will be lowered from 93 miles (150
kilometers) to about 77 miles (125 kilometers). These measurements will
provide information down to where the upper and lower atmospheres meet,
giving scientists a full profile of the upper tier.

"This was a very big day for MAVEN," said David Mitchell, MAVEN project
manager from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.
"We're very excited to join the constellation of spacecraft in orbit at
Mars and on the surface of the Red Planet. The commissioning phase will
keep the operations team busy for the next six weeks, and then we'll begin,
at last, the science phase of the mission. Congratulations to the team
for a job well done today."

MAVEN launched Nov. 18, 2013, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in
Florida, carrying three instrument packages. The Particles and Fields
Package, built by the University of California at Berkeley with support
from CU/LASP and Goddard, contains six instruments that will characterize
the solar wind and the ionosphere of the planet. The Remote Sensing Package,
built by CU/LASP, will identify characteristics present throughout the
upper atmosphere and ionosphere. The Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer,
provided by Goddard, will measure the composition and isotopes of atomic

The spacecraft's principal investigator is based at CU/LASP. 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 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. JPL provides navigation and Deep Space Network support, and
Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations. JPL, a division
of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars
Exploration Program for NASA.

To learn more about the MAVEN mission, visit:




Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov

Nancy Neal-Jones / Elizabeth Zubritsky
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
301-286-0039 / 301-614-5438
nancy.n.jones at nasa.gov / elizabeth.a.zubritsky at nasa.gov

Received on Mon 22 Sep 2014 12:02:13 AM PDT

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