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MAVEN IUVS Gets First View of Mars

June 10
MAVEN's Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph observed Mars and the Sun on May 21, 2014 from a distance of 22 million miles (35 million km). The spectrum plotted here shows Mars’ sunlit disk in the mid-UV range. (Courtesy LASP)

MAVEN’s Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph observed Mars and the Sun on May 21, 2014 from a distance of 22 million miles (35 million km). The spectrum plotted here shows Mars’ sunlit disk in the mid-UV range. (Courtesy LASP)

MAVEN’s Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) made calibration observations of Mars on May 21, 2014, four months before Mars Orbit Insertion (September 21). Despite the spacecraft’s relative great distance from Mars (35 million km or ~22 million miles), IUVS detected the planet and obtained a spectrum of Mars’ sunlit disk in the mid-UV range.

Since Mars still appears smaller than a pixel, the spectrum does not yet reveal information about the atmosphere; essentially all spectral features are due to the Sun.

IUVS’ next Mars observations are planned for shortly after MOI in late September; these will be the first data with useful atmospheric information. The MAVEN IUVS and spacecraft teams worked very well together to plan and carry out these observations and the teams are greatly looking forward to doing so again in a few short months.

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