NASA’s Newest MAVEN Spacecraft Successfully Enters into Martian Orbit

First Posted: Sep 22, 2014 03:59 AM EDT

After a journey of 10 months, NASA's MAVEN orbiter has finally made a successful entry into the Martian orbit, reports NASA. 

The officials at NASA in a latest announcement declared that its Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has successfully arrived at Mars on Sept. 21 at 7.24 P.M. EDT. The orbiter will now gear up to study the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet that has never been done before. This is the first ever spacecraft that is solely designed to explore the Martian upper atmosphere.

"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."

Launched November 18, 2013, MAVEN ended a 10-month journey and made a successful orbit insertion. The confirmation of this was received from the spacecraft data observed at the operation center, as well as from the tracking data that was monitored at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory navigation facility. The space agency's Deep Space Network Antenna station received the telemetry as well as tacking data.

"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."

MAVEN will now head for a six-week commissioning phase that consists of maneuvering into the final science orbit, putting the instruments to test and science-mapping commands. After this, it will commence into its one Earth-year primary mission, during which it will measure the composition, structure. It will also measure the escape of gases in Mars' upper atmosphere and its interaction along with Sun and solar wind.

MAVEN's primary mission consists of five deep-dip campaigns. For this campaign, periapsis of the spacecraft (i.e. lowest orbit altitude) will be dropped from 93 miles to 77 miles. These measurements will send data down where the upper and lower atmosphere meet, offering scientists a complete profile of the upper tier.

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