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Published:November 11th, 2013 13:59 EST
NASA MAVEN Spacecraft to Explore Atmosphere of Mars

NASA MAVEN Spacecraft to Explore Atmosphere of Mars

By Ron G Anselm

The exploration of the Red Planet we all know as Mars as taken a front row seat in NASA`s many mission lately that you wonder if Mars will soon be known as Earth Two " (Anselm, R.)

That`s about it " we have seen NASA prioritize its missions and space program lately to put Mars a top priority when it comes to space exploration you wonder if there is something we are not being told about or hearing about.

NASA has explored the surface of Mars wit it`s famous Rover Space vehicle searching for the presence of water a necessary entity for sustaining life and searched the surface rocks and soil for any biological evidence of the presence of any forms of life and continues to explore each piece as a puzzle that makes up Mars that you wonder if preparations are being made to one day (after we totally destroy our planet with global warming) to call Mars Earth Two.

Now, another NASA mission is shaping up for a launch scheduled to take place with a launch of its MAVEN space craft on Monday, November 18th at 1:28 Eastern Time Zone. The MAVEN Mission is a strategic mission that will examine various and specific types of processes that ultimately led to the loss and destruction of much of the Martian atmosphere.

Gathering this information form the MAVEN Mission could help scientists understand the history of climate change on Mars and can ultimately provide further on the future history of planetary habitability.

John Grunsfeld who is the Associate Administrator for NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. commented on the mission, "The MAVEN mission is a significant step toward unraveling the planetary puzzle about Mars` past and present environments. The knowledge we gain will build on past and current missions examining Mars and will help inform future missions to send humans to Mars." (Grunsfeld, J.)

The spacecraft being used for this mission weighs 5,410 pounds and will launch aboard a United Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket. The spacecraft won`t zoom right into the mission since it will take about ten months for it to reach Mars and then at that time in September 2014 the MAVEN will start its journey into the wonders of the Red Planet.

The schedule for the MAVEN over its one-year mission on Mars is for it to observe all of Mar`s latitudes.  The altitudes will vary and range from ninety-three miles to more than 3,800 miles. During this mission the MAVEN will acrobatically and execute five deep dip maneuvers which will lead it to descend to an altitude of seventy-eight miles. This altitude on Mars is the lowest of the planet`s upper atmosphere.

Brice Jakosky who is a principal investigator at the University of Colorado gave a little insight on this, The Launch is an important event, but it`s only a step along the way to getting the science measurements. We`re excited about the science we`ll be doing, and are anxious now to get to Mars." (Jakosky, B.)

The MAVEN spacecraft will be carrying three instrument sites. The Particles and Fields Package, provided by the University of California at Berkeley with support from CU/LASP and NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., contains six instruments to characterize the solar wind and the ionosphere of Mars. 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, built by Goddard, will measure the composition of Mars` upper atmosphere. (nasa.gov)

Dave Mitchell who is the MAVEN project manager commented on this, "When we proposed and were selected to develop MAVEN back in 2008, we set our sights on Nov. 18, 2013, as our first launch opportunity. Now we are poised to launch on that very day. That`s quite an accomplishment by the team." (Mitchell, D.)

                                                                         Reference

NASA Prepares to Launch First Mission to Explore Martian Atmosphere, (http://www.nasa.gov/maven), (http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/). Retrieved 2013.

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