MAVEN

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) is the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. Today Mars is cold and dry, but ancient Mars was warm, wet, and possibly hospitable to life. Scientists think that the loss of Mars' early atmosphere caused the planet to dry up, and MAVEN is testing this hypothesis by observing present-day interactions of the Martian atmosphere with the solar wind. Learn more about MAVEN from NASA and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Content Contact:

Content

  • Ultraviolet Mars Reveals Cloud Formation
    2016.10.17
    Ultraviolet images from MAVEN's IUVS instrument were used to make a time-lapse movie of rapid cloud formation on Mars on July 9-10, 2016.
  • Mars Evolution for Planetariums
    2016.05.24
    Scientists think that billions of years ago, the atmosphere of Mars was much denser and warm enough to support rivers, lakes, and perhaps even oceans of water. As the planet cooled and lost its global magnetic field, the solar wind and solar storms eroded away to space a significant amount of the planet’s atmosphere and water, turning Mars into the cold, arid desert that we see today. This animation depicts Mars transitioning from wet to dry. It is formatted in a square aspect ratio for planetariums and available in 4k resolution.
  • The Mars Fleet
    2016.03.21
    A fleet of robotic spacecraft is exploring the Red Planet, sending back an ever-growing flood of data. While rovers like Curiosity blaze tracks through the fine Martian soil, orbiters like MAVEN and MRO circle high overhead, gazing down at the planet's atmosphere and surface and relaying ground-based data back to Earth. The Mars fleet is providing mission controllers at NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Indian Space Research Organisation with a remote presence on Mars.
  • Solar Wind Strips Martian Atmosphere
    2015.11.05
    Unlike Earth, Mars lacks a global magnetic field to deflect the stream of charged particles continuously blowing off the Sun. Instead, the solar wind crashes into the Mars upper atmosphere and can accelerate ions into space. Now, for the first time, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft has observed this process in action – by measuring the speed and direction of ions escaping from Mars.
  • Solar Wind and Mars Bow Shock
    2015.11.05
    Mars lacks a global magnetic field to deflect the incoming solar wind, so charged particles from the Sun slam into the Mars upper atmosphere and pile up in a bow shock ahead of the planet. The inner boundary of this bow shock reaches the Mars ionosphere, and can accelerate ions to escape velocities. The visualizations on this page compare a simulated Mars bow shock with data taken from the MAVEN spacecraft.
  • Science Results Live Shot
    2015.11.05
    On Thursday, November 5, 2015, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) released its first results showing how Mars is losing its atmosphere to space. These results will help scientists understand why Mars' climate has changed, and why the planet has evolved from being warm and wet to cold and dry. NASA scientists were available on Friday, November 6 to discuss these results from the Goddard television studio.
  • Mapping Mars' Upper Atmosphere
    2015.09.02
    High above the thin Martian skies, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft is carrying out a mission: determine how Mars lost its early atmosphere, and with it, its water. Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky discusses MAVEN's early science observations and its stellar occultation campaigns.
  • Stellar Occultations
    2015.09.02
    While previous orbiters have peered down at the Martian surface, MAVEN is spending part of its time gazing at the stars, observing the Martian atmosphere through a series of stellar occultations.
  • Mars Orbital Coverage
    2015.09.02
    MAVEN’s orbit gives it the most comprehensive view of the Martian atmosphere of any spacecraft to date. The combination of MAVEN’s north-to-south orbit and Mars’ eastward rotation provides a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere.
  • Deep Dip Orbit
    2015.09.02
    MAVEN is on a more elliptical orbit than many previous spacecraft, allowing it to study the interaction of the Martian atmosphere with the solar wind at varying altitudes. During the periodic "deep dip" campaigns, MAVEN's orbit is lowered to only 125 km at closest approach, dipping into the Mars upper atmosphere to study it in situ.
  • Investigating the Martian Atmosphere
    2014.09.17
    The Martian surface bears ample evidence of flowing water in its youth, from ancient crater lakes and riverbeds to minerals that only form in water. But today Mars is cold and dry, and scientists think that the loss of Mars' water may have been caused by the loss of its early atmosphere. NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, or MAVEN, will be the first spacecraft devoted to studying the Red Planet's upper atmosphere, in an effort to understand how the Martian climate has changed over time.
  • Voices of MAVEN
    2014.11.06
    On September 21, 2014 EDT, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, or MAVEN, went into orbit around the Red Planet. Its goal: to understand how a changing atmosphere transformed Mars from a warm, wet environment in its youth to the desert world that we see today. Building such a mission and sending it to Mars is a hugely complex task, requiring the close coordination of hundreds of individuals around the country. In this video, several of the team members who made the mission possible share their experiences of working on MAVEN.
  • Goddard Goes to Mars
    2014.06.25
    The Martian climate remains one of the solar system's biggest mysteries: although cold and dry today, myriad surface features on Mars carved by flowing water attest to a much warmer, wetter past. What caused this dramatic transition? Scientists think that climate change on Mars may be due to solar wind erosion of the early atmosphere, and NASA's MAVEN mission will test this hypothesis. Project Manager David F. Mitchell discusses MAVEN and the Goddard Space Flight Center's role in sending it to the Red Planet.
  • Comet Siding Spring Narrated Video
    2014.10.17
    On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring passed within 88,000 miles of Mars – just one third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon! Traveling at 33 miles per second and weighing as much as a small mountain, the comet hailed from the outer fringes of our solar system, originating in a region of icy debris known as the Oort cloud. NASA observed this historic close encounter with a fleet of rovers and orbiters, including MAVEN, and learned more about the evolution of the solar system thanks to Mars' icy visitor.
  • Comet Siding Spring Animations and MAVEN
    2014.10.14
    On October 19, 2014, Mars received a first-time visitor from the outer fringes of the solar system. C/2013 A1, better known as Comet Siding Spring, had been traveling toward the inner solar system for millions of years, and just missed Mars by a distance of 88,000 miles (roughly one-third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon). These animations depict the flyby as seen from orbit above Mars, and as seen from the Martian surface.
  • Comet Siding Spring and Mars Fleet
    2014.10.09
    This visualization shows NASA’s fleet of Mars orbiters, landers, and rovers during the planet’s close encounter with Comet Siding Spring. C/2013 A1, better known as Comet Siding Spring, made a remarkably close pass of Mars on October 19, 2014. At closest approach, Comet Siding Spring came within 82,000 miles of the Red Planet – just one-third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon. During the flyby, NASA positioned its orbiters behind Mars to protect them from comet dust.
  • Comet Siding Spring Mars Flyby
    2014.09.30
    These visualizations show MAVEN and Comet Siding Spring making their way through the solar system to a close encounter near Mars. Two wide angle views are included. The first one maintains a fixed camera above the ecliptic plane of the solar system. The second one moves the camera in a bit closer and more parallel with the ecliptic plane as the comet and MAVEN encounter the Martian region.
  • Targeting Mars
    2014.09.04
    If you want to send a spacecraft from Earth to Mars, how would you get it there? You can't aim straight at the Red Planet, because it's moving around the Sun significantly slower than the Earth. Instead, you'll have to wait for up to 26 months for a launch window, then carefully aim at a moving target. In November 2013, the controllers of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft did just that.
  • Science Orbit Visualization
    2014.09.04
    This visualization shows how the MAVEN spacecraft orbit changes as it progresses from the initial, highly elliptical entry orbit to a somewhat less elliptical orbit and finally to the science orbit.
  • Mars Orbit Insertion Highlights
    2014.11.12
    The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft arrived at Mars on September 21, 2014 EDT. NASA-TV broadcast a 70-minute live program as MAVEN executed a dramatic engine burn to achieve Martian orbit. This page contains highlights from the MAVEN Mars Orbit Insertion broadcast.
  • Mars Orbit Insertion Animations
    2014.09.18
    These animations depict MAVEN's arrival at Mars and the ensuing science instrument deployments. The animations begin with MAVEN's orbital insertion engine burn near the Martian north pole. The deployments include MAVEN's LPW, SWEA and APP instruments.
  • Mars Orbit Insertion Visualization
    2014.09.04
    The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft was launched on a ten-month journey to Mars on November 18, 2013. This visualization shows MAVEN's approach and orbit insertion around Mars. MAVEN's initial orbit is highly elliptical. The tail behind MAVEN changes to red to indicate the period during which thrusters are fired for orbit insertion. A separate visualization shows the transition from the insertion orbit to the more circular science orbit.
  • Cruise Phase Visualization
    2014.09.04
    The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft was launched on a ten-month journey to Mars on November 18, 2013. The visualizations on this page show MAVEN's arcing path from Earth to Mars.
  • Launch and Deployment Animations
    2014.09.18
    This animation follows the MAVEN spacecraft's journey to Mars - from launch on an Atlas V rocket, through its solar panel deployments, to its dramatic engine burn during Mars orbit insertion.
  • MAVEN Launch - November 18, 2013
    2014.11.12
    On November 18, 2013, the MAVEN spacecraft launched on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page contains highlights of the launch, available for download in broadcast-quality HD.
  • Pre-launch Live Shot
    2013.11.13
    Spacecraft footage and interview with Dr. Jim Garvin, previewing the launch of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission on November 18, 2013.
  • Principal Investigator and Project Manager Interviews
    2014.09.18
    Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky and Project Manager David F. Mitchell discuss NASA's MAVEN mission, and its goal of understanding the evolution of the Martian climate.
  • Mission Overview with Principal Investigator
    2013.11.08
    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. An edited version appears below.
  • Mars Transition Wet to Dry
    2013.11.13
    Billions of years ago when the Red Planet was young, it appears to have had a thick atmosphere that was warm enough to support oceans of liquid water – a critical ingredient for life. The animation shows how the surface of Mars might have appeared during this ancient clement period, beginning with a flyover of a Martian lake. The artist's concept is based on evidence that Mars was once very different. Rapidly moving clouds suggest the passage of time, and the shift from a warm and wet to a cold and dry climate is shown as the animation progresses. The lakes dry up, while the atmosphere gradually transitions from Earthlike blue skies to the dusty pink and tan hues seen on Mars today.
  • Mars Atmospheric Loss
    2013.11.05
    When you take a look at Mars, you probably wouldn't think that it looks like a nice place to live. It's dry, it's dusty, and there's practically no atmosphere. But some scientists think that Mars may have once looked like a much nicer place to live, with a thicker atmosphere, cloudy skies, and possibly even liquid water flowing over the surface. So how did Mars transform from a warm, wet world to a cold, barren desert? NASA's MAVEN spacecraft will give us a clearer idea of how Mars lost its atmosphere (and thus its water), and scientists think that several processes have had an impact.
  • Mars Climate History
    2012.07.15
    This page contains conceptual animations depicting a transition from a "Wet" Mars that may have existed long ago to the "Dry" Mars that we see today.
  • Spacecraft Animations and Statistics
    2014.11.12
    NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission is helping scientists to uncover the secrets of the ancient Martian climate. This page contains animations of MAVEN at Mars and spacecraft statistics.
  • MAVEN Spacecraft and Instrument Footage
    2012.07.30
    This page contains broadcast-quality footage of the MAVEN spacecraft and science instruments.
  • Particles & Fields Instrument Package
    2014.03.05
    To planetary scientists, the Martian atmosphere presents an intriguing mystery: today it's a thin, cold wisp of carbon dioxide with just one percent the pressure of Earth's atmosphere, but long ago it was thick and warm enough to support lakes and rivers on the Martian surface. How did Mars lose so much of its early atmosphere? Scientists think that the solar wind may be responsible, and NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft is designed to find out. The instruments of MAVEN's Particles & Fields package will study the interaction of the solar wind with Mars's upper atmosphere, helping scientists to better understand how Mars became the freeze-dried planet that we see today.
  • Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS)
    2013.07.18
    While NASA rovers, landers, and orbiters have scrutinized the surface of Mars for decades, a key question to understanding the Red Planet's ancient habitability has hitherto gone unanswered: what happened to its atmosphere? NASA's MAVEN spacecraft will fill in this gap in the history of Mars, thanks in part to its Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer, or NGIMS instrument. By studying the interaction of neutral gases and ions with the solar wind, NGIMS will observe current atmospheric escape processes on Mars and allow scientists to extrapolate back to the ancient atmosphere. The results could tell scientists just how long Mars was wet and hospitable, refining our understanding of its early potential for life.
  • Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS)
    2013.06.13
    The philosophy of NASA's Mars Program has been "Follow the water," but "Where did the atmosphere go?" is still a lingering question. Although fluvial features such as dry riverbeds are visible on Mars, the atmosphere today is too thin to support liquid water, implying that Mars once had a thicker atmosphere that was lost to space. NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission, or MAVEN, will test this hypothesis. As part of its remote sensing instrument package, MAVEN's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) will look at isotopic hydrogen ratios in the upper atmosphere of Mars, helping scientists to determine just how much water once flowed across the Red Planet.
  • Magnetometer (MAG) Instrument
    2013.03.26
    When you navigate with a compass you can orient yourself thanks to Earth's global magnetic field. But on Mars, if you were to walk around with a compass it would haphazardly point from one anomaly to another, because the Red Planet does not possess a global magnetosphere. Scientists think that this lack of a protective magnetic field may have allowed the solar wind to strip away the Martian atmosphere over billions of years, and now NASA's MAVEN spacecraft will study this process in detail with its pair of ring core fluxgate magnetometers.
  • Employee Profiles (Spanish)
    2012.05.30
    Spanish-language profile videos of MAVEN Deputy Project Manager Sandra Cauffman and software engineer Carlos Gomez-Rosa.
  • Guide to Satellites: Construction
    2011.07.22
    Building satellites isn't easy. They're complex, expensive, and not to mention hard to make! This is why whenever NASA makes a new satellite—like the MAVEN mission to Mars—its scientists and engineers do everything they can to make sure it's done right. Now, putting a satellite together is nothing like putting together, say, an office chair. A single bolt can take hours to install, and you can't even imagine how complex the electronics are! Find out more about the whole process in this video!
  • Guide to Satellites: Design Phase
    2010.10.05
    Building satellites isn't easy. They're complex, expensive, and not to mention hard to make! This is why whenever NASA makes a new satellite—like the MAVEN mission to Mars—its scientists and engineers do everything they can to make sure it's done right. One of the most important steps in this process is the design review, where everything is checked and double-checked to make sure the satellite is ready to build!
  • Beauty Passes and Orbit Animations
    2012.07.09
    This collection contains early animations showing the MAVEN spacecraft in orbit around Mars, as well as MAVEN's overall orbit trajectory. Newer animations can be found on the "Mars Orbit Insertion Animations" and "Launch and Deployment Animations" pages near the top of this gallery.
  • General Teaser
    2010.12.01
    The MAVEN spacecraft is an exciting new unmanned Mars mission designed specifically to study the upper atmosphere of Mars. By studying how Mars' atmosphere is lost to space today, MAVEN will allow us to answer some important questions about the history of the red planet. How did it lose its atmosphere and surface water? How did its climate change? With data from MAVEN, we'll be able to determine how Mars' climate has changed over time, and how Mars transformed from a planet that possibly had a thicker atmosphere and liquid water to the barren landscape we see today.
  • Science Teaser
    2010.10.05
    The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN), set to launch in 2013, will explore the planet's upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatile compounds 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.