NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars orbit on Sunday at 7:24 pm P.D.T. and will prepare to study the planet’s upper atmosphere, according to the Media Relations Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
“As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, MAVEN will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s,” he said.
Confirmation of successful insertion was received from MAVEN data observed at the Lockheed Martin operations center in Littleton, Colorado, as well as from tracking data monitored at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory navigation facility in Pasadena, according to the Media Relations Office.
The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna station in Canberra, Australia, according to the Media Relations Office.
“NASA has a long history of scientific discovery at Mars and the safe arrival of MAVEN opens another chapter,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters.
MAVEN will begin a six-week commissioning phase that includes maneuvering into its final science orbit and testing the instruments and science mapping commands, according to the Media Relations Office. It will then begin its primary mission: taking measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the Sun and solar wind, according to the Media Relations Office.