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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

MAVEN Status Update: Dec. 4, 2013

December 4, 2013

The Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) instrument, shown here at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., before its integration onto NASA’s  Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft. (Courtesy NASA/GSFC)

The Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) instrument, shown here at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., before its integration onto NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft. (Courtesy NASA/GSFC)


Initial activation of the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) occurred at approximately 10:18 a.m. EST this morning. Checkout began with the Main Electronics Box, and telemetry was as expected. Subsequently, the Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer (QMS) was initiated. QMS spectra were plotted and showed the expected levels of noble gases inside the QMS sensor.

Upon MAVEN’s arrival at Mars in September, 2014, the NGIMS instrument will study the planet’s fragile upper atmosphere, examining its composition and determining how quickly some of the gases are escaping into space over time. This information will help scientists understand the current state of the Martian upper atmosphere, how it looked billions of years ago, and how most of it has been lost.

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