NASA’s MAVEN Selfie Marks Four Years in Orbit at Mars

This image is a composite selfie taken by MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument that normally looks at ultraviolet emissions from the Martian upper atmosphere. Lines are sketched in to show approximately where components of the spacecraft are that were not able to be imaged due to the limited motion of the instrument around its support boom. Thrusters can be seen at the lower left and right, the Electra communications antenna at the bottom toward the left, the magnetometer and sun sensor at the end of the solar-panels at the upper left, the tip of the communications antenna at the top middle. In addition, the shadow of the IUVS and of its support boom can be seen down the middle of the spacecraft body. (Credits: University of Colorado/NASA)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — Today, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft celebrates four years in orbit studying the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet and how it interacts with the Sun and the solar wind. To mark the occasion, the team has released a selfie image of the spacecraft at Mars.

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Lucy Asteroid Mission Moves Toward 2021 Launch

Southwest Research Institute is leading NASA’s Lucy mission, which will launch in 2021 for the first reconnaissance of the Trojans, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. In this artist’s concept (not to scale), the Lucy spacecraft is flying by Eurybates, one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. (Credit: SwRI)

The first mission to explore Trojan asteroids that orbit in tandem with Jupiter is moving forward toward a late 2021 launch date using heritage hardware that has already been tested in space, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment.

“Project officials characterize the Lucy design as low risk because it does not require development of any critical technologies and has a high heritage design,” the GAO found. “For example, these officials stated that Lucy’s design has the same architecture as prior NASA projects such as Juno and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN).

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NASA Year in Review

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2015, NASA explored the expanse of our solar system and beyond, and the complex processes of our home planet, while also advancing the technologies for our journey to Mars, and new aviation systems as the agency reached new milestones aboard the International Space Station.

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U.S., India to Deepen Cooperation in Space

india-flagPresident Barack Obama is on a state visit to India. The U.S. and Indian governments released a joint statement focusing on areas of cooperation, including enhanced cooperation in space. The following are excerpts from the statement.

The Prime Minister and the President acknowledged and expressed satisfaction at the qualitative reinvigoration of strategic ties and the intensity of substantive interactions since the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in September 2014.  They appreciated the focused action and accomplishments by both sides on the decisions taken during the Summit in September and in this regard, they welcomed:

  • The 30 September 2014 signing of an implementing agreement between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to conduct the joint NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission.

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi agreed to further promote cooperative and commercial relations between India and the United States in the field of space.  The leaders noted the on-going interactions between their space agencies, including towards realizing a dual frequency radar imaging satellite for Earth Sciences, and exploring possibilities for cooperation in studying Mars.

The Leaders took note of ongoing U.S.-India space cooperation, including the first face-to-face meeting of the ISRO-NASA Mars Working Group from 29-31 January 2015 in Bangalore, in which the two sides will consider opportunities for enhanced cooperation in Mars exploration, including potential coordinated observations and analysis between ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission (MAVEN).  The Prime Minister and the President also welcomed continued progress toward enhanced space cooperation via the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group, which will meet later this year in India.

MAVEN Enters Martian Orbit

Members of the mission team at the Lockheed Martin Mission Support Area in Littleton, Colorado, celebrate after successfully inserting NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft into orbit around Mars at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21. (Credit:  Lockheed Martin)
Members of the mission team at the Lockheed Martin Mission Support Area in Littleton, Colorado, celebrate after successfully inserting NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft into orbit around Mars at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

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NASA Planetary Exploration Highlights From 2013

This self-portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Feb. 3, 2013, plus three exposures taken on May 10, 2013. (Credit: NASA)
This self-portrait of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Feb. 3, 2013, plus three exposures taken on May 10, 2013. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Takes a Look Back at 2013

Mars

Mars is the centerpiece of NASA’s planetary exploration. The Curiosity rover continues to explore the planet, and in its first year already has accomplished its primary goal of determining that Mars could indeed have supported life in the past, possibly much later than originally thought. Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector instrument is helping scientists assess round-trip radiation doses for a human mission to Mars.

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This Week on The Space Show

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This week on The Space Show with David Livingston:

1. Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back MICHELLE EVANTS for updates regarding X-15 and her book on the subject, “The X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space.”

2. Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. WENDELL MENDELL. Dr. Mendell is a planetary scientist at NASA JSC. We will be discussing the Moon and much more during this program.

3. Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 9:30-11 AM PST (11:30- 1 PM CST, 12:30PM-2:00 PM EST): We welcome DR. DAVID BRAIN to the program to discuss the MAVEN mission, Mars, and more.

4. Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). We welcome back ERIC LERNER of Focus Fusion. We will be discussion fusion energy updates with our guest.

MAVEN Set for Launch Monday, NASA Schedules Public Viewing Events

Atlas V with MAVEN aboard on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)
Atlas V with MAVEN aboard on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

LATEST UPDATES:

Monday Morning

The launch teams are starting the steps to load about 50,000 gallons of liquid oxygen into the first stage of the Atlas V. The lines and tanks have been chilled to accept the minus-297 degree propellant. About 26,000 gallons of refined kerosene, or RP-1, flowed into the first stage fuel tanks during the wet dress rehearsal a couple of weeks ago. Since kerosene doesn’t have to be kept cold the way the cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuel for the Centaur do, the fuel stayed inside the Atlas tank.

Weather Forecast Remains 60 Percent “Go”
November 17, 2013 – 9:45 AM EST

Forecasters from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict a 60 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft at 1:28 p.m. EST Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41. MAVEN is scheduled to liftoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V at the beginning of a two hour launch window. Teams are working no technical issues and the countdown is targeted to pick up from the T-6 hour, 20 minute mark at 6:28 a.m. Monday.

NASA Public Viewing Events

Five NASA centers in Washington, Maryland, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia will host events and activities Monday, Nov. 18, for the public to view the launch of the agency’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft and learn about its mission.

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Busy Launch Week Begins on Monday with MAVEN Flight

Launch of Atlas V NRO satellite on June 20, 2012. (Credit: ULA)
Launch of Atlas V NRO satellite on June 20, 2012. (Credit: ULA)

The numbers are impressive.

  • 6 launches
  • 6 launch vehicles
  • ~ 40 satellites
  • 5 spaceports
  • 4 nations
  • 7 days.

That is the week in rocketry that will begin on Monday. The highlights include:

  • NASA’s MAVEN orbiter will study Mars’ atmosphere and climate (Monday, Nov. 18 at 1:28 p.m. EST — Cape Canaveral, Florida );
  • Minotaur I will set a new record for the number of satellites launched into space with by sending the military’s STPSat 3 and 29 CubeSats into orbit (Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 7:30 to 9:15 pm EST — Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Virginia);
  • SpaceX will attempt to put its first communications satellite into geosynchronous orbit using its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket (Monday, Nov. 25 at 5:37 pm EST — Cape Canaveral, Florida).

Three additional launches will take place from Russia and Kazakhstan over that 7-day period. A table with all scheduled launches is below along with a map showing East Coast residents how they can view Minotaur I’s night launch on Tuesday.

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NASA to Launch MAVEN Mission to Mars Next Week

Video Caption: Ancient riverbeds, crater lakes and flood channels all attest to Mars’s warm, watery past. So how did the Red Planet evolve from a once hospitable world into the cold, dry desert that we see today? One possibility is that Mars lost its early atmosphere, allowing its water to escape into space, and NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft will investigate just that. On September 25, 2013, MAVEN Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky delivered a presentation at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, discussing NASA’s next mission to Mars.

Space 2013: Space Agencies Head for Moon, Mars

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Space agencies around the world are planning to launch four missions to other worlds this year, evenly split between the moon and Mars. NASA will orbiters to each destination, while China will attempt to become only the third nation to soft land on the moon. India also looks to make history with its first mission to Mars.
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Mistake Costs NASA $10 Million, Two Years and Half of Science Return

NASA awards $485M Mars project delayed by conflict
The Associate Press

“The price of the probe increased by $10 million, its launch was postponed by two years, and the science-gathering mission will be cut in half to one year, an official said. NASA chose the University of Colorado’s [MAVEN] proposal to study the Martian atmosphere from 20 other ideas to study Mars that were trimmed to just two before a conflict of interest was declared.

“NASA has not disclosed what the conflict of interest was or who it involved, other than to say last year that it was not created by NASA but by one of the two groups. The space agency said last December that a ‘serious’ conflict of interest in one of two proposals forced it to disband the board formed to pick the winner, and create a new panel to award the contract.”

MAVEN to Challenge Martian Galactic Ghoul

NASA PRESS STATEMENT

NASA has selected a Mars robotic mission that will provide information about the Red Planet’s atmosphere, climate history and potential habitability in greater detail than ever before.

Called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft, the $485 million mission is scheduled for launch in late 2013. The selection was evaluated to have the best science value and lowest implementation risk from 20 mission investigation proposals submitted in response to a NASA Announcement of Opportunity in August 2006.

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