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.
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»)
On Feb. 26, mission controllers performed a successful second trajectory correction maneuver, also known as TCM-2. Post-maneuver data review shows that TCM-2 went according to plan. This burn lasted approximately 19 seconds and imparted a change in velocity of 68.8 centimeters per second (1.54 mph). The maneuver was used to adjust the “aim point” of MAVEN at its closest approach when it arrives at Mars, so that it can properly enter orbit around the planet. All spacecraft systems continue to show nominal performance. TCM-1 occurred on Dec. 3, 2013. TCM-3 is scheduled for July 23.
Upcoming events in March include continuing calibrations and checkouts of various instrument and spacecraft systems. MAVEN is at a distance of 21.2 million kilometers (13.2 million miles) from Earth and 103.7 million kilometers (64.4 million miles) from Mars. The current velocity is 29.44 kilometers per second (65,855 mph) as it moves around the Sun.(Read more»)
On Feb. 19 the MAVEN team successfully completed initial post-launch power-on and checkout of the Electra Ultra High Frequency Transceiver. This completes the initial checkout of all payloads on the MAVEN spacecraft, with everything performing as expected.
The MAVEN Electra payload is part of the NASA Mars Exploration Program’s Mars Relay Network. This network is composed of orbiters, including NASA’s Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, that provide reliable, high-data-rate relay communications links to landers on the surface of Mars, including NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, greatly increasing science data return from the Martian surface. MAVEN will be available to provide relay services on a contingency basis during its prime science mission and will routinely provide relay support during an anticipated extended mission. MAVEN’s Electra payload is provided and operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.(Read more»)
The MAVEN Particles & Fields Package (PFP) team successfully completed instrument initial post-launch power on and checkout. The PFP consists of six separate and distinct instruments, all operated through a single data processing unit. This flight hardware was built by providers at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Colorado at Boulder, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP) in Toulouse, France. The entire package was integrated and delivered by the University of California at Berkeley. All instruments have been tested and are performing as expected.
The six instruments that comprise the PFP make detailed measurements of the properties of the Martian upper atmosphere, ionosphere, the input of solar energy into the upper atmosphere, the magnetic field, and ions that have enough energy to escape from the atmosphere to space. These measurements are central to understanding the loss of atmospheric gas to space that is occurring today and to determining what the history of loss through time has been.(Read more»)
As of January 9, MAVEN is at a distance of 14,386,805 km (8,939,546 miles) from Earth and the spacecraft continues to operate nominally in early cruise phase. MAVEN currently has an Earth-centered velocity of 2.43 km/s (1.53 mile/s or 5,508 mph) and a Sun-centered velocity of 32.58 km/s (20.27 miles/s or 72,972 mph).
MAVEN has already traveled 145,978,745 km (90,706,813 miles) on its heliocentric transfer path to Mars. We are currently at a distance of 178,442,517 km (110,879,039 miles) from Mars and one-way light-time to the spacecraft is 48 seconds.(Read more»)