September 25, 2014

MAVEN entered orbit around the Red Planet on September 21, 2014

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars' orbit at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, completing an interplanetary journey of 10 months and 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).

It will now prepare to study the Red Planet's upper atmosphere as never done before. Maven is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

After a 10-month journey, confirmation of successful orbit insertion was received from Maven data observed at the Lockheed Martin operations center in Littleton, Colorado, as well as from tracking data monitored at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) navigation facility in Pasadena, California. The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA's Deep Space Network antenna station in Canberra, Australia.

Following orbit insertion, Maven will begin a six-week commissioning phase that includes maneuvering into its final science orbit and testing the instruments and science-mapping commands. Maven then will begin its one Earth-year primary mission, taking measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars' upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and solar wind.

The primary mission includes five "deep-dip" campaigns, in which Maven's periapsis, or lowest orbit altitude, will be lowered from 93 miles (150 kilometers) to about 77 miles (125 kilometers). These measurements will provide information down to where the upper and lower atmospheres meet, giving scientists a full profile of the upper tier.

Read the complete article on NASA web site.

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