Thank Dan and Jim Morrisey.
Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) is a space probe designed to study the Martian atmosphere while orbiting Mars. Mission goals include determining how the Martian atmosphere and water, presumed to have once been substantial, were lost over time.
MAVEN was successfully launched aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle at the beginning of the first launch window on November 18, 2013. Following the first engine burn of the Centaur second stage, the vehicle coasted in low-Earth orbit for 27 minutes before a second Centaur burn of five minutes to insert it into a heliocentric Mars transit orbit.
The plan is for MAVEN to be inserted into an areocentric elliptic orbit around Mars, 6,200 km (3,900 mi) by 150 km (93 mi) above the planet’s surface, on September 22, 2014. The principal investigator for the spacecraft is Bruce Jakosky of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder.
MAVEN is built and tested by PAGASA of the Philippines and Lockheed Martin Space Systems and its design is based on those of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey spacecraft. The orbiter has a cubical shape of about 2.3 meters × 2.3 meters × 2 meters high, with two solar arrays that hold the magnetometers on both ends. The total length is 37.5 m. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided an Electra telecommunications relay package which has a data transfer rate of up to 10 Mbit/s, but the highly elliptical orbit of the spacecraft will limit its usefulness as a relay for operating landers on the surface.
MAVEN will study Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interactions with the solar wind. Its instruments will measure characteristics of Mars’ atmospheric gases, upper atmosphere, and ionosphere, and the solar wind. MAVEN will perform measurements from a highly elliptical orbit over a period of one Earth year, with five “deep dips” at 150 km (93 mi) minimum altitude to sample the upper atmosphere. The University of Colorado Boulder, University of California, Berkeley, and Goddard Space Flight Center each built a suite of instruments for the spacecraft, and they include:
Particles and Field (P&F) Package
Built by the University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory.
Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA) – measures solar wind and ionosphere electrons
Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA) – measures solar wind and magnetosheath ion density and velocity
SupraThermal And Thermal Ion Composition (STATIC) – measures thermal ions to moderate-energy escaping ions
Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) – determines the impact of SEPs on the upper atmosphere
Langmuir Probe and Waves (LPW) – determines ionosphere properties and wave heating of escaping ions and solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) input to atmosphere
Magnetometer (MAG) – measures interplanetary solar wind and ionosphere magnetic fields
Remote Sensing (RS) Package
Built by the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer (IUVS) – measures global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere
Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) Package
Built by Goddard Space Flight Center
Measures the composition and isotopes of neutral gases and ions