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NASA MAVEN Mission to Mars
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The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission is the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The goal of MAVEN is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time. Where did the atmosphere – and the water – go?
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission is the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The goal of MAVEN is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time. Where did the atmosphere – and the water – go?

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#MAVEN successfully completed its eighth Deep Dip campaign on Monday, Oct. 23, executing two exit maneuvers that placed the spacecraft into a corridor where the density of #Mars' atmosphere (at periapsis, or the lowest altitude) is again between 0.05 kg/km³ and 0.15 kg/km³.

The Deep Dip periapsis altitude for this campaign averaged 125 km, which is approximately 30 km below the nominal altitude.

The two exit maneuvers were conducted on Oct. 23:
A 2.1 m/sec maneuver raised the spacecraft periapsis by ~12 km and resulted in an atmospheric density of 0.6 kg/km³. A 3.0 m/sec maneuver raised periapsis another ~18 km and placed #MAVEN’s periapsis into the nominal density corridor.

MAVEN’s periapsis altitude is currently at 154 km, where the mean periapsis density is ~0.11 kg/km³ and is increasing slightly.
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MAVEN Deep Dip campaign #8 is underway

#MAVEN has begun its eighth deep dip campaign by performing two entry maneuvers to place the spacecraft into a corridor where Mars’ atmospheric density is between 2.0 - 3.5 kg/km³.

The two deep dip entry maneuvers consisted of a 3.6 m/s (∆V) maneuver to lower periapsis (the lowest altitude of the spacecraft) by 22 km (on October 15) and a 0.6 m/s (∆V) maneuver to lower periapsis another 4 km (on Oct. 17).

Deep dip campaign #8 is located near local noon on #Mars, at a latitude of ~25°N. Each campaign is intended to not only lower the altitude of the spacecraft down into the well-mixed portion of the atmosphere, but to do so in a location where MAVEN's orbit is such that it can observe a variety of solar conditions and their effects on Mars' atmosphere over time.

MAVEN’s current periapsis altitude is 124 km above the surface of Mars, where the average #Martian atmospheric density is ~2.5 kg/km³ and increasing slightly. The spacecraft will remain at this approximate periapsis altitude until the planned "walk out" maneuvers return it to the nominal science corridor, beginning on Oct. 21.

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MAVEN has completed Deep Dip #7

The #MAVEN spacecraft has successfully completed an eight-day deep dip campaign with the execution of a 1.8 m/sec. ∆V (change in velocity) maneuver on August 22 to raise periapsis by 11 km. The post-maneuver altitude of the spacecraft is currently 138.5 km, where Mars' atmospheric density is ~0.66 kg/km³.

A final "walk out" maneuver is planned for today (Thursday, Aug. 24) and is predicted to place MAVEN’s periapsis into the middle of the nominal science mapping density corridor. Today's maneuver will require a 2.4 m/sec. ∆V, which will result in a periapsis altitude of 151 km and an atmospheric density of 0.012 kg/km³.

During deep dip campaign #7, MAVEN’s mean periapsis density ranged from an initial 2.2 kg/km³ to a maximum of 3.5 kg/km³.
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1,000 Days in Orbit: MAVEN’s Top 10 Discoveries at Mars

On Saturday, June 17, 2017, the #MAVEN mission surpassed 1,000 Earth days in orbit around the Red Planet. Since its launch in November 2013 and its orbit insertion in September 2014, MAVEN has been exploring the upper atmosphere of #Mars.

MAVEN is bringing insight to how the sun stripped away most of the #Martian atmosphere, turning a planet once possibly habitable to microbial life into a barren desert world.

Read the full story and see the top 10 MAVEN discoveries to-date: http://bit.ly/MAVEN1000days.

(Image credit: Lockheed Martin)
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Detection of a persistent meteoric metal layer in the Martian atmosphere

The MAVEN science team, led by Matteo Crismani from the University of Colorado Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, has published an article in the journal Nature Geoscience demonstrating that observations of magnesium ions are consistent with a persistent meteoric layer in Mars' upper atmosphere.

Remote-sensing observations made with the MAVEN Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph over a period of two (Earth) years have revealed that Mars experiences meteors (shooting stars). This discovery allows #MAVEN scientists for the first time to directly measure the interplanetary dust environment at #Mars.

Such a long period of observations also allows scientists to test whether or not meteor showers contribute significant material to the #Martian dust environment. Similar to the dust environment on Earth, Mars' meteor showers have not been conclusively shown to increase the metallic ion content in the atmosphere.

Moreover, this discovery forces the MAVEN team to reexamine the understanding of the ionosphere of Mars, as previously discovered transient layers cannot be attributed to meteoric activity.

The full paper can be accessed here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2958.

(Image credit: MAVEN IUVS/Anil Rao)
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MAVEN completes 5,000 orbits of Mars!

MAVEN completed its 5,000th orbit around the Red Planet on April 28, 950 days after successfully entering Mars' orbit on Sept. 21, 2014.

In September 2016, NASA declared that MAVEN had achieved mission success during its primary mission. Mission success means that the spacecraft operated as intended, made the expected science measurements, and achieved its proposed science objectives.

MAVEN is in the midst of a two-year extended mission, which began on October 1, 2016. The elliptical orbit of the spacecraft takes it from an apoapsis (furthest point from the planet) of ~6,500 kilometers (4,039 mi) to a periapsis (closest approach) of ~120 kilometers (75 mi).

The mission’s goal is to explore the planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interactions with the sun and solar wind in order to gain insight into the history of Mars' atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.

Recent MAVEN findings have revealed:

● Unprecedented details about hydrogen escape from the upper atmosphere of Mars, crucial information for helping team scientists figure out the total amount of water lost over billions of years. For more details, visit: http://bit.ly/2e7V3X7.
● The solar wind and radiation are responsible for stripping the the majority of the planet’s atmosphere and CO₂ off to space by sputtering, transforming Mars from a planet that could have supported life billions of years ago into a frigid desert world. For more details, visit: http://bit.ly/2nQ1IHF.
● The permanent presence of metal ions in the ionosphere of a planet other than Earth, the result of a constant rain of tiny meteoroids onto the Red Planet. For more details, visit: http://bit.ly/2nUYaR2.

MAVEN was launched to Mars on Nov. 18, 2013, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
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MAVEN has made the first direct detection of the permanent presence of metal ions in the ionosphere of a planet other than Earth

Mars has electrically charged metal atoms (ions) high in its atmosphere, according to new #MAVEN results. The metal ions can reveal previously invisible activity in the mysterious electrically charged upper atmosphere (ionosphere) of #Mars.

Because metallic ions have long lifetimes and are transported far from their region of origin by neutral winds and electric fields, they can be used to infer motion in the ionosphere, similar to the way we use a lofted leaf to reveal which way the wind is blowing.

Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/2nUYaR2.

The new results are included in a paper on the research, released April 10 in Geophysical Research Letters: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GL072635/full.

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MAVEN Steers Clear of Mars Moon Phobos

The #MAVEN spacecraft performed a previously unscheduled maneuver this week to avoid a collision in the near future with #Mars’ moon Phobos.

Read the full story: http://bit.ly/2mKyTJS.
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MAVEN Observes Ups and Downs of Water Escape from Mars

After investigating the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet for a full #Martian year, MAVEN has determined that escaping water does not always go gently into space.

Sophisticated measurements made by a suite of instruments on the #MAVEN spacecraft revealed the ups and downs of hydrogen escape—and therefore water loss. The escape rate peaked when #Mars was at its closest point to the sun and dropped off when the planet was farthest from the sun. The rate of loss varied dramatically overall, with 10 times more hydrogen escaping at the maximum.

Hydrogen in Mars’ upper atmosphere comes from water vapor in the lower atmosphere. An atmospheric water molecule can be broken apart by sunlight, releasing the two hydrogen atoms from the oxygen atom that they had been bound to. Several processes at work in Mars’ upper atmosphere may then act on the hydrogen, leading to its escape.

Michael Chaffin, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics who is on the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) team, is presenting some IUVS results today at the joint meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences and the European Planetary Science Congress in Pasadena, California.

Read the full story: http://bit.ly/2e7V3X7
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MAVEN Gives Unprecedented Ultraviolet View of Mars

Images from MAVEN's Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) were used to make this movie of rapid cloud formation on #Mars on July 9-10, 2016. The ultraviolet colors of the planet have been rendered in false color, to show what we would see with ultraviolet-sensitive eyes. The movie uses four #MAVEN images to show about 7 hours of Mars rotation during this period, and interleaves simulated views that would be seen between the four images.

Mars' day is similar to Earth’s, so the movie shows just over a quarter day. The left part of the planet in morning and the right side in afternoon. Mars’ prominent volcanoes, topped with white clouds, can be seen moving across the disk. Mars’ tallest volcano, Olympus Mons, appears as a prominent dark region near the top of the images, with a small white cloud at the summit that grows during the day. Olympus Mons appears dark because the volcano rises up above much of the hazy atmosphere which makes the rest of the planet appear lighter. Three more volcanoes appear in a diagonal row, with their cloud cover merging to span up to a thousand miles by the end of the day.

These images are particularly interesting because they show how rapidly and extensively the clouds topping the volcanoes form in the afternoon. Similar processes occur at Earth, with the flow of winds over mountains creating clouds. Afternoon cloud formation is a common occurrence in the American West, especially during the summer.

(Video credit: NASA/University of Colorado-LASP/MAVEN-IUVS)

To read a related story, visit: http://bit.ly/2efmOZ5
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