Space

August 5, 2013

NASA begins launch preparations for next Mars mission

NASAís Mars Atmosphere and Volatiles Evolution spacecraft is seen inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility Aug. 3. 2013, at the agencyís Kennedy Space Center in Florida. MAVEN will be prepared inside the facility for its scheduled November launch to Mars.

NASA’s next spacecraft going to Mars arrived Friday, Aug. 2, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and is now perched in a cleanroom†to begin final preparations for its November launch.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft is undergoing detailed testing and fueling prior to being moved to its launch pad. The mission has a 20-day launch period that opens Nov. 18.

The spacecraft will conduct the first mission dedicated to surveying the upper atmosphere of Mars.

Scientists expect to obtain unprecedented data that will help them understand how the loss of atmospheric gas to space may have played a part in changing the planet’s climate.

“We’re excited and proud to ship the spacecraft right on schedule,” said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “But more critical milestones lie ahead before we accomplish our mission of collecting science data from Mars. I firmly believe the team is up to the task. Now we begin the final push to launch.”

Over the weekend, the team confirmed the spacecraft arrived in good condition. They removed the spacecraft from the shipping container and secured it to a rotation fixture in the cleanroom. In the next week, the team will reassemble components previously removed for transport. Further checks prior to launch will include software tests, spin balance tests, and test deployments of the spacecraft’s solar panels and booms.

The spacecraft was transported from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., on Friday, aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo.,†designed and built the spacecraft and is responsible for testing, launch processing, and mission operations.

Lockheed Martin delivered NASAís MAVEN spacecraft to the Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 2, 2013. The Mars orbiter was shipped aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane from Buckley Air Force Base near Denver to the Kennedy Space Center where it will undergo final processing in preparation for a mid-November launch.

“It’s always a mix of excitement and stress when you ship a spacecraft down to the launch site,” said Guy Beutelschies, MAVEN program manager at Lockheed Martin. “It’s similar to moving your children to college after high school graduation. You’re proud of the hard work to get to this point, but you know they still need some help before they’re ready to be on their own.”

Previous Mars missions detected energetic solar fields and particles that could drive atmospheric gases away from Mars. Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a planet-wide magnetic field that would deflect these solar winds. As a result, these winds may have stripped away much of Mars’ atmosphere.

MAVEN’s data will help scientists reconstruct the planet’s past climate. Scientists will use MAVEN data to project how Mars became the cold, dusty desert planet we see today. The planned one-year mission begins with the spacecraft entering the Red Planet’s orbit† in September 2014.

“MAVEN is not going to detect life,” said Bruce Jakosky, planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder and MAVEN’s principal investigator. “But it will help us understand the climate history, which is the history of its habitability.”

MAVEN’s principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder. The university provides science instruments and leads science operations, education and public outreach.

Goddard manages the project and provides two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory provides science instruments for the mission. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, Deep Space Network support, and Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines May 4, 2015

News: Authorization Bill a prelude to U.S. spending showdown - The House Armed Services Committee handed the Pentagon and U.S. defense sector a victory by surgically protecting weapon programs and authorizing extra war funding – but a showdown with the White House looms.   Business: Canada plans major sub-life extension - Canada has begun work on a...
 
 

New’s Briefs May 4, 2015

Senator proposes extended military foreclosure protection Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says he has introduced legislation to help protect military service members from losing their homes to foreclosure. The Rhode Island Democrat said May 2 he has introduced a bill to extend one that is due to expire this year. The law protects service members for a...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph

Global Hawk earns unprecedented third consecutive sustainment award

Northrop Grumman photograph A U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk on a runway in Palmdale, Calif. For an unprecedented third year in a row, the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft program was officially awarded the Dr...
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Most advanced GPS satellite comes together

Lockheed Martin photograph Lockheed Martin recently fully integrated the U.S. Air Force’s first next generation GPS III satellite at the company’s Denver-area satellite manufacturing facility.  The first in a design block ...
 
 
navair-fire-scout

MQ-8C Fire Scout completes developmental flight test

Northrop Grumman photograph An MQ-8C Fire Scout†conducts its†final†developmental test flight April 29 from Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu, Calif.† Since its first flight in October 2013, the Navy’s new, l...
 
 
boeing-swiss

Boeing, SWISS finalize order for three additional 777-300ERs

Boeing, the Lufthansa Group and Swiss International Air Lines have finalized an order for three additional 777-300ER (Extended Range) airplanes, valued at $990 million at current list prices. This order, previously attributed t...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>