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2014
Solar Wind & Mars

MAVEN Solar Wind Ion Analyzer Will Look at Key Player in Mars Atmosphere Loss

May 15

This past November, NASA launched the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission in the hope of understanding how and why the planet has been losing its atmosphere over billions of years.

One instrument aboard the spacecraft will study a special component of the Martian atmosphere to help solve this mystery. By studying ions, or small electrically charged particles, in and above the Red Planet’s tenuous atmosphere, the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer will help answer why Mars has gradually lost much of its atmosphere, developing into a frozen, barren planet.

Once the MAVEN spacecraft is orbiting Mars, the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA)—which was designed and built at the University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL)—will spend much of its time measuring the ions in the solar wind. Released continuously from the sun’s atmosphere, the solar wind travels toward Mars at speeds around a million miles per hour, carrying with it a magnetic field that originates inside the sun. It is composed of charged particles that interact with neutral gas particles in Mars’ upper atmosphere, giving them the ability to escape from Mars’ gravitational pull.

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MAVEN’s three instrument packages provide the comprehensive measurements essential to understanding the evolution of the Martian atmosphere over time. (Courtesy MAVEN)

MAVEN on Track to Carry Out its Science Mission

February 4

The MAVEN spacecraft and all of its science instruments have completed their initial checkout, and all of them are working as expected. This means that MAVEN is on track to carry out its full science mission as originally planned.

The mission is designed to explore Mars’ upper atmosphere. It will determine the role that escape of gas from the atmosphere to space has played in changing the climate throughout the planet’s history. MAVEN was launched on November 18, 2013, and will go into orbit around Mars on the evening of Sept. 21, 2014 (10 p.m. EDT).

After a 5-week commissioning phase in orbit, during which it will get into its science-mapping orbit, deploy its booms, and do a final checkout of the science instruments, it will carry out a one-Earth-year mission. It will observe the structure and composition of the upper atmosphere, determine the rate of escape of gas to space today and the processes controlling it, and make measurements that will allow it to determine the total amount of gas lost to space over time.

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2013
Searching for Mars' Missing Atmosphere (Courtesy GSFC)

Goddard Planetary Instruments Score a Hat Trick

December 6, 2013

Planetary instruments from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., hit the trifecta on Dec. 4, running three experiments of the same kind at different places in space.

The instruments, all flying on NASA missions, are mass spectrometers, designed to take in atmospheric, rock or soil samples and identify particular molecules in them. The investigations lined up because of the operating schedules for the three, which must take turns with other instruments on their respective spacecraft.

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maven_launch_lcc

Mission Managers Hail Successful MAVEN Launch

November 19, 2013

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission began with a smooth countdown and flawless launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the 5,400-pound spacecraft lifted off at 1:28 p.m. EST, the mission’s first opportunity. MAVEN’s solar arrays deployed and are producing power.

“We’re currently about 14,000 miles away from Earth and heading out to the Red Planet right now,” said MAVEN Project Manager David Mitchell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

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MAVEN lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was captured in this image from just off Space Launch Complex 41. MAVEN will spend about 10 months in cruise to Mars, where it is scheduled to enter its science mapping orbit on September 22, 2014. (Courtesy ULA)

NASA Launches MAVEN to Study Upper Atmosphere of Mars

November 19, 2013

A NASA mission that will investigate how Mars lost its atmosphere and abundant liquid water launched into space at 1:28 p.m. EST Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The agency’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft separated from an Atlas V Centaur rocket’s second stage 53 minutes after launch. The solar arrays deployed approximately one hour after launch and currently power the spacecraft. MAVEN now is embarking on a 10-month interplanetary cruise before arriving at Mars next September.

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Mission Manager a Modern Mr. Fix-it

November 16, 2013
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LeVar Burton Shares MAVEN’s Story in a New NASA PSA

November 14, 2013
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MAVEN Seeks to Solve Another Mars Riddle

November 14, 2013
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NASA Video Illustrates MAVEN Mission’s Investigation of a Lost Mars

November 13, 2013
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MAVEN Solar Wind Electron Analyzer Seeks Answers at Microscopic Levels

November 12, 2013
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MAVEN Launch Day Coverage

November 9, 2013
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What MAVEN Would See at Mars on Halloween

October 31, 2013
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NASA Prepares to Launch First Mission to Explore Mars’ Upper Atmosphere

October 28, 2013
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Communications Tests Go the Distance for MAVEN

September 20, 2013
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MAVEN Paces Through Prelaunch Prep

September 6, 2013
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MAVEN Eyes Mars as Launch Preparations Begin

August 9, 2013
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MAVEN haiku selected for travel to Mars

August 8, 2013
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NASA Begins Launch Preparations for Next Mars Mission

August 5, 2013
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MAVEN Spectrometer Opens Window to Red Planet’s Past

July 18, 2013
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Public voting opens on MAVEN haiku contest

July 15, 2013
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MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph May Help Paint Total Atmospheric Picture

June 17, 2013
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MAVEN Student Art Contest Winner Announced

May 20, 2013
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NASA Invites Public to Send Names And Messages to Mars

May 1, 2013
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Final MAVEN Instrument Integrated to Spacecraft

April 3, 2013
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Measuring Mars: The MAVEN Magnetometer

March 26, 2013
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MAVEN invites the public to come aboard

March 15, 2013
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PRESS RELEASE: MAVEN Particles and Fields Package Integrated

March 14, 2013
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PRESS RELEASE: MAVEN Completes Assembly, Begins Environmental Testing

February 8, 2013
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2012

MAVEN Science Community Workshop – Presentations

December 10, 2012
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PRESS RELEASE: Instrument Delivered for NASA’s Upcoming Mars Mission

November 16, 2012
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PRESS RELEASE: Next Mars Mission Enters Final Phase Before Launch

September 11, 2012
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MAVEN Profiles: Carlos Gomez-Rosa

May 30, 2012
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PRESS RELEASE: NASA Goddard Delivers MAVEN Magnetometers

May 21, 2012
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MAVEN Profiles: Sandra Cauffman

April 26, 2012
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PHOTO RELEASE: NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft and Propellant Tank at Lockheed Martin

April 16, 2012
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A stressful test

February 27, 2012
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2011

MAVEN team members bring mission science to rural West Virginia students

December 12, 2011
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New NASA Missions to Investigate How Mars Turned Hostile

November 18, 2011
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PRESS RELEASE: MAVEN Mission Primary Structure Complete

September 26, 2011
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PRESS RELEASE: LASP-led mission to Mars achieves major milestone

July 22, 2011
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2010

PRESS RELEASE: NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for MAVEN Mission

October 21, 2010
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PRESS RELEASE: NASA gives LASP-led Mars mission green light

October 5, 2010
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MAVEN mission to investigate how sun steals Martian atmosphere

October 5, 2010
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2008

NASA selects CU-Boulder to lead $485 million Mars mission

September 15, 2008
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NASA selects MAVEN mission to study Mars atmosphere

September 15, 2008
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