MAVEN mission completes major milestone

Jul 22, 2011
An artist's conception of the MAVEN spacecraft orbiting Mars. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission reached a major milestone last week when it successfully completed its Mission Critical Design Review (CDR).

MAVEN, scheduled for in late 2013, will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The goal of MAVEN is to determine the history of the loss of to through time, providing answers about Mars climate evolution. It will accomplish this by measuring the current rate of escape to space and gathering enough information about the relevant processes to allow extrapolation backward in time.

Noting this milestone, Michael Meyer, Lead Scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters said. "It is a real pleasure to see the MAVEN team is doing an exemplary job on this important mission, which was identified as a top priority mission in the 2002 National Research Council Decadal Survey and addresses high-priority goals of two Divisions—Planetary Sciences and Heliophysics."

"Understanding how and why the atmosphere changed through time is an important scientific objective for Mars," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN Principal Investigator from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado (CU/LASP) at Boulder. "MAVEN will make the right measurements to allow us to answer this question. We’re in the middle of the hard work right now—building the instruments and spacecraft—and we’re incredibly excited about the science results we’re going to get from the mission."

From July 11 – 15, 2011, the MAVEN Critical Design Review was held at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. An independent review board, comprised of reviewers from NASA and several external organizations, met to validate the system design. Critical Design Reviews are one-time programmatic events that bridge the design and manufacturing stages of a project. A successful review means that the design is validated and will meet its requirements, is backed up with solid analysis and documentation, and has been proven to be safe. MAVEN's CDR completion grants permission to the mission team to begin manufacturing hardware.

"This team continues to nail every major milestone like clockwork, as laid out three years ago when the mission was proposed," said Dave Mitchell, MAVEN Project Manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "CDR success is very important because it validates that the team is ready for fabrication, assembly, and test of all mission elements. It also enables us to stay on plan for launch in November 2013."

MAVEN will carry three instrument suites. The Particles and Fields Package, built by the University of California at Berkeley with support from CU/LASP and NASA Goddard, contains six instruments that will characterize the solar wind and the ionosphere of the planet. The Remote Sensing Package, built by CU/LASP, will determine global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere. The Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer, provided by NASA Goddard, will measure the composition and isotopes of neutral ions.

MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The university will provide science operations, build instruments, and lead Education/Public Outreach. Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will manage the MAVEN mission. Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colo., will build the spacecraft and perform mission operations. The University of California-Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory will build instruments for the . NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., will provide Program management via the Mars Program Office, as well as navigation support, the Deep Space Network, and the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

Explore further: Curiosity brushes 'Bonanza king' target anticipating fourth red planet rock drilling

More information: For more about MAVEN, refer to: www.nasa.gov/maven

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA selects CU-Boulder to lead $485M Mars mission

Sep 15, 2008

In the largest research contract ever awarded to the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has been selected by NASA to lead a $485 million orbiting space mission ...

NASA mission asks why Mars has no atmosphere

Oct 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA this week gave the green light to a mission to Mars that will seek to understand why and how the red planet lost its atmosphere 3-4 billion years ago.

NASA Selects Proposals for Future Mars Missions and Studies

Jan 09, 2007

On Monday, NASA selected for concept study development two proposals for future robotic missions to Mars. These missions would increase understanding of Mars' atmosphere, climate and potential habitability in greater detail ...

TDRS spacecraft pass system level reviews

Feb 22, 2010

NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) K-L program completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) and Production Readiness Review (PRR) in El Segundo, Calif. on Feb. 19.

Recommended for you

Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy discovers new comet

17 hours ago

It's confirmed! Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy just discovered his fifth comet, C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). He found it August 17th using a Celestron C8 fitted with a CCD camera at his roll-off roof ...

Students see world from station crew's point of view

Aug 19, 2014

NASA is helping students examine their home planet from space without ever leaving the ground, giving them a global perspective by going beyond a map attached to a sphere on a pedestal. The Sally Ride Earth ...

Mars deep down

Aug 19, 2014

Scarring the southern highlands of Mars is one of the Solar System's largest impact basins: Hellas, with a diameter of 2300 km and a depth of over 7 km.

User comments : 0