MAVEN Status Update: Sept. 22, 2014

David F. Mitchell, MAVEN Project Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Right on schedule last night at 9:50 p.m. EDT, the MAVEN spacecraft fired its main engines for 33 minutes and 26 seconds in order to slow down the spacecraft enough to capture into Mars orbit. Following that event at about 10:30 p.m. EDT, David Folta, the Goddard Mission Design/Navigation lead—stationed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory—made the call that we were all waiting for, “Based on observed navigation data, congratulations, MAVEN is now in Mars orbit!”

The spacecraft team listening on the net at the Lockheed Martin Mission Operations Center erupted with cheers of happiness and relief. Our one shot to get MAVEN safely into Mars orbit had been successful. For some on the Project, it was the culmination of 11 years of work and for many others, it is now the beginning of the science mission.

Following the MOI maneuver, the navigation team determined that MAVEN has an orbital period around Mars of 35.02 hours (nominal plan of 35 hours). Essentially, right on the money! Around midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 23, we will perform the first post-MOI engine burn (Periapsis Lowering Maneuver-1). PLM-1 will be a 109 second burn on the smaller TCM engines. In the weeks ahead there will be additional engine burns, which will eventually get MAVEN into its primary science orbit with an orbital period of 4.5 hours.

Three of the nine science instruments (the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer, the Magnetometers, and the Solar Energetic Particle instrument) were activated today. Additionally, there will be a series of instrument deployments before transitioning to the primary science phase in early November.

Transition timeline (80 KB PDF)
Transition timeline (80 KB PDF)

MAVEN Post-Mars Orbit Insertion News Conference