The MAVEN team includes experts from many institutions and disciplines. The team blog is a forum for these individuals to share their personal experiences with the MAVEN community. From exploring the science of the mission, to the engineering behind the instrumentation, from the complex aspects of project management, to the access and use of data products, we hope you enjoy the opportunity to engage with the MAVEN team through these anecdotes.
As part of its goal to explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and the solar wind, MAVEN is exploring propagation of the solar wind and solar energetic particles (SEPs) beyond 1 Astronomical Unit (149,597,871 kilometers or 92,955,807 miles) during its cruise to Mars.(Read more»)
David F. Mitchell, MAVEN Project Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
MAVEN continues on a smooth journey to Mars. All spacecraft and instrument systems are operating nominally. This month has been a rather quiet period for spacecraft operations. A big focus in June was to rehearse, test, and in some cases stress, the team in preparation for MAVEN’s arrival at Mars in September. We held an operational readiness test simulating the Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) event focused on the last three days leading to MOI. Team members were located at the sites where they will be stationed in September (Lockheed Martin/Denver, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California). We ran the test using a simulator instead of the real spacecraft. The simulator sent data to consoles around the country projecting MAVEN spacecraft conditions as if it were real. A Rehearsal Anomaly Team (or “RAT”) injected red card events into the system and that’s when the “fun” would happen to see how the team responded to unexpected events. It was a great learning experience that will support us well when MAVEN enters Mars orbit for real in September.(Read more»)
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.(Read more»)
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.(Read more»)
The MAVEN spacecraft continues to perform well on its trip to Mars. The spacecraft is currently flying in “late cruise mode,” which positions the spacecraft with the fixed high gain antenna pointing directly at Earth as MAVEN gets farther from our home planet. The high gain antenna enables us to communicate with MAVEN at a high data rate between Mars and Earth.
During the month of March, the MAVEN team calibrated various spacecraft systems including the high gain antenna, star trackers, and the inertial measurement units in order to verify pointing accuracies.
On the instrument side, the team tested the Extreme UltraViolet (EUV) sensor by slewing the spacecraft in a cross-shaped scan maneuver while the EUV sensor stared at the Sun. Once at Mars, this sensor will measure the Extreme Ultraviolet light coming from the Sun and help us to better understand solar effects on Mars’ upper atmosphere. We also turned on the entire Particles & Fields package (six of the eight MAVEN instruments), now working together for the first time in space.(Read more»)