Maven Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution. Maven Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/maven/news/confirmation.html. Maven Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution.
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MAVEN, the “Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution” probe, is a NASA orbiter mission designed to study the planet Mars. It is part of NASA's Mars Scout Program.
MAVEN’s mission is to explore Mar’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and its interactions with the sun and solar wind.
The MAVEN mission will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. It will investigate how the Sun ‘steals’ Martian atmosphere.
The Red Planet bleeds. Not blood, but its atmosphere, slowly trickling away to space. The culprit is our sun, which is using its own breath, the solar wind, and its radiation to rob Mars of its air. The crime may have condemned the planet's surface, once apparently promising for life, to a cold and sterile existence.
Features on Mars resembling dry riverbeds, and the discovery of minerals that form in the presence of water, indicate that Mars once had a thicker atmosphere and was warm enough for liquid water to flow on the surface.
The thick atmosphere of Mars got lost in space. Mars has been cold and dry for billions of years, with an atmosphere so thin, any liquid water on the surface quickly boils away while the sun's ultraviolet radiation scours the ground.
Mars lost its global magnetic field in its youth billions of years ago. Once its planet-wide magnetic field disappeared, Mars' atmosphere was exposed to the solar wind and most of it has been gradually stripped away.
MAVEN was selected on September 15, 2008. Its launch window is November 18 through December 7, 2013. It should enter Mars orbit 10 months after launch, in the fall of 2014.
MAVEN has a planned nominal lifetime of 2 years. The mission budget is 485 million dollars. It will take ten months for MAVEN to reach the Red Planet.
There are four primary science objectives for the MAVEN project. They are:
There are three packages of instruments that will fly on the MAVEN craft. The MAVEN instruments are all closely based on similar instruments that have flown on previous missions.
The P&F Package has six different instruments
(P&F) Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA): Will measure the solar wind and ionospheric electrons.
(P&F) Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA): Will measure solar wind and magneto sheath ion density and velocity.
(P&F) Suprathermal and Thermal Ion Composition (STATIC): Will measure the thermal ions to moderate-energy escaping ions.
(P&F) Solar Energetic Particle (SEP): Will determine the impact of SEPs on the upper atmosphere.
(P&F) Lagmuir Probe and Waves (LPW): Will determine the ionospheric properties and wave heating of escaping ions and solar EUV input to the atmosphere.
(P&F) Magnetometer (MAG): Will measure the interplanetary solar wind and ionospheric magnetic fields.
The Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer (IUVS) is a part of the Remote Sensing (RS) Package and measures global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere via remote sensing.
The NGIMS will measure the composition and isotopes of thermal neutrals and ions.
Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatile compounds—such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and water—from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.
The MAVEN Principal Investigator is Dr. Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).
The project is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The LASP team will provide science operations, build two of the science instruments, and lead education and public outreach efforts for the MAVEN mission.
The upper atmosphere can act as a conduit through which the gases flow as they are lost to space. The loss processes themselves act instantaneously, on daily timescales, on seasonal timescales, and on longer timescales. Thus, it is important to understand the behavior of the upper atmosphere and how it connects to the lower atmosphere and to space.
In this context, the MAVEN mission is designed to understand the nature of the upper atmosphere as the conduit through which gases move as they are lost to space and to understand the nature of the processes by which gases are lost at the present.
By measuring the response of these to changing solar inputs over the course of the mission, and by measuring key aspects of the atmosphere today, we can extrapolate the loss to billion-year timescales and determine the role that loss to space has played through time.
Presented by Tony Owens
September 20, 2011
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
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