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MAVEN Status Update: May 1, 2014

May 1

MAVEN Magnetometer testing

Jim Odom, a technician from Goddard’s magnetometer group, works on the MAVEN magnetometers. (Courtesy NASA/GSFC/Debbie McCallum)

The MAVEN spacecraft continues to perform well on its journey to Mars. This month we calibrated the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer, which is now monitoring interplanetary hydrogen. With our Particles & Fields instruments, we are now observing the solar wind. Real science at work!

The team also calibrated the two magnetometers. These magnetometers are located at the tips of the spacecraft solar arrays. The calibration was conducted by rolling the spacecraft, using thrusters, about the three spacecraft axes. Ultimately the MAVEN magnetometers will measure faint magnetic fields at Mars. So it is important to understand the spacecraft’s own magnetic impact and remove it from the measured data.

Also in April we had a meeting with the Navigation Advisory Group or “NAG” at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The NAG is an independent group of experts who review the current flight path of MAVEN, the project’s plans for upcoming trajectory corrections maneuvers, the contingency plans for late maneuvers prior to the September 21st Mars Orbit Insertion event, and the overall decision making processes. It was an excellent interaction and we received both positive marks as well as some great advice.

MAVEN is now closer to Mars than it is to Earth. The spacecraft is 57.5 million kilometers (35.8 million miles) from Earth and 44.6 million kilometers (27.7 million miles) from Mars. Its Sun-centered velocity is 25.1 kilometers per second (56,100 miles per hour) in its heliocentric transfer path to Mars.

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