MAVEN Passes Preliminary Design Review

MAVEN Standing Review Board
Members of the MAVEN Standing Review Board intensely following the activities during the Preliminary Design Review.

I’m sure that those of you who regularly read this blog are tired of hearing about the Preliminary Design Review (PDR). It’s just another review, and when do we get on to the cool stuff of building and testing hardware!? The reality is that, right now, the MAVEN project is all about the design, requirements, reviews, and meetings. Once we have confidence in the design – that the hardware will do what is intended and that it will work – then we can move on to the “cutting of metal”.

Well, the MAVEN team successfully passed its PDR a week ago! The Standing Review Board was unanimous in this view. They pointed out a lot of areas in which they have concerns – as is their role and responsibility in this endeavor – but there were no significant problems that we didn’t already know about.

We still have some areas where we’re working to solve problems. Examples include making sure that the spacecraft has no stray magnetic fields that are large enough to keep us from accurately measuring the Martian and interplanetary fields, and making sure that the pointing of the mass spectrometer is sufficiently precise and accurate that the molecules will stream straight in through the inlet port when we’re making measurements. These are at least straightforward (if not quite trivial) problems to resolve.

Our next major step is the Confirmation Review (also known as KDP-C, the Key Decision Point that will allow us to enter Phase C; yeah, NASA lingo is one of a kind!). Getting confirmed (and we expect to be) means that NASA will have made the decision to move forward with the MAVEN project into the implementation phase. We would then go ahead with developing our final design. That review is scheduled for mid-September.

Every day is both another milestone and another day closer to launch!