Title

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) Mission

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2015

Abstract

The MAVEN spacecraft launched in November 2013, arrived at Mars in September 2014, and completed commissioning and began its one-Earth-year primary science mission in November 2014. The orbiter’s science objectives are to explore the interactions of the Sun and the solar wind with the Mars magnetosphere and upper atmosphere, to determine the structure of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere and the processes controlling it, to determine the escape rates from the upper atmosphere to space at the present epoch, and to measure properties that allow us to extrapolate these escape rates into the past to determine the total loss of atmospheric gas to space through time. These results will allow us to determine the importance of loss to space in changing the Mars climate and atmosphere through time, thereby providing important boundary conditions on the history of the habitability of Mars. The MAVEN spacecraft contains eight science instruments (with nine sensors) that measure the energy and particle input from the Sun into the Mars upper atmosphere, the response of the upper atmosphere to that input, and the resulting escape of gas to space. In addition, it contains an Electra relay that will allow it to relay commands and data between spacecraft on the surface and Earth.

DOI

10.1007/s11214-015-0139-x