Space Probe Enters Orbit around Mars
22 September 2014

Artist concept showing NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft in Mars orbit

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

On 22 September 2014, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft was successfully placed into orbit around Mars. MAVEN will now prepare to begin an unprecedented study of the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere. It is the first mission dedicated to exploring the tenuous Martian upper atmosphere.

“As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, MAVEN will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.”

During the next six weeks, MAVEN will maneuver into its final science orbit, and test its instruments and science-mapping commands. MAVEN, carrying three instrument sets onboard, will then begin a one-year main mission, to obtain measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the Sun and solar wind.

MAVEN launched 18 November 2013, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It has been voyaging in interplanetary space for 10-months, to reach our small fascinating cosmic neighbor. 

References and Further Reading

Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
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