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.

Content Contact:

Content

  • 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, will make a remarkably close pass of Mars on October 19, 2014. At closest approach, Comet Siding Spring will come within 82,000 miles of the Red Planet – just one-third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon. During the flyby, NASA will position its Mars fleet both to protect it from comet dust, and to make observations of the comet and its effects on the upper atmosphere of Mars.
  • Comet Siding Spring Narrated Video
    2014.10.17
    On October 19, Comet Siding Spring will pass 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 hails from the outer fringes of our solar system, originating in a region of icy debris known as the Oort cloud. Comets from the Oort cloud are both ancient and rare. Since this is Comet Siding Spring’s first trip through the inner solar system, scientists are excited to learn more about its composition and the effects of its gas and dust on the Mars upper atmosphere. NASA will be watching closely before, during, and after the flyby with its entire fleet of Mars orbiters and rovers, along with the Hubble Space Telescope and dozens of instruments on Earth. The encounter is certain to teach us more about Oort cloud comets, the Martian atmosphere, and the solar system’s earliest ingredients.
  • MAVEN and Comet Siding Spring
    2014.10.14
    On October 19, 2014, Mars will receive a first-time visitor from the outer fringes of the solar system. C/2013 A1, better known as Comet Siding Spring, has been traveling toward the inner solar system for millions of years, and will just miss Mars by a distance of 88,000 miles on October 19 (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. The blue portion of Comet Siding Spring's tail is composed of ionized gas swept away from the Sun by the solar wind. The gray portion is composed of heavier dust particles, which are moving at 33 miles per second relative to Mars.
  • Comet Siding Spring wide shots
    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.
  • Voices of MAVEN
    2014.11.06
    On September 21, 2014, 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.
  • Principal Investigator and Project Manager
    2014.09.18
    Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky and Project Manager David F. Mitchell discuss NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission, or MAVEN, which will study the upper atmosphere of Mars.
  • Mars Orbital Insertion Animations
    2014.09.18
    These animations depict MAVEN's arrival at Mars on September 21, 2014, 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.
  • Launch and Deployment Animations
    2014.09.18
    This animation follows the MAVEN spacecraft through launch on an Atlas V rocket from KSC through it's solar panel deployments and ending with MAVEN begining it's journey to MARS.
  • Investigating the Martian Atmosphere
    2014.09.17
    The Martian surface bears ample evidence of flowing water in its youth, from 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.
  • Cruise Phase Visualization
    2014.09.04
    The Mars Atmosphere and Volitile Evolution mission (MAVEN) spacecraft was launched on a 10 month journey to Mars on November 18, 2013. MAVEN is expected to arrive in Mars orbit on Sept 21, 2014 EDT. MAVEN's mission is to investigate the upper atmosphere of Mars and its interactions with the Sun and solar wind. This will help scientists understand why Mars lost many volitile molecules form its atmosphere such as CO2, N2, and H2O. These visualizations show the path has taken from Earth to Mars. There is a wide view from above the ecliptic plane and a view that slowly tilts down to about 45 degrees above the ecliptic plane.
  • Mars Orbit Insertion Visualization
    2014.09.04
    The Mars Atmosphere and Volitile Evolution mission (MAVEN) spacecraft was launched on a 10 month journey to Mars on November 18, 2013. MAVEN is expected to arrive in Mars orbit on Sept 21, 2014 EDT. MAVEN's mission is to investigate the upper atmosphere of Mars and its interactions with the Sun and solar wind. This will help scientists understand why Mars lost many volitile molecules form its atmosphere such as CO2, N2, and H2O. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft did just that. When MAVEN arrives, it will be the first spacecraft to study Mars's upper atmosphere in detail, helping scientists understand how Mars changed from a wet planet early in its history to the cold, dry world we see today.
  • 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.
  • Nov. 13, 2013 Live Shots
    2013.11.13
    Broll and interview with Dr. Jim Garvin previewing the upcoming launch of NASA's newest mission to Mars, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evoution or MAVEN set to launch Monday, Nov. 18th.
  • 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.

    Learn more about these processes in the videos below!

  • Beauty Passes and Orbit Animations
    2012.07.09
    This collection contains animations showing the MAVEN spacecraft in orbit around Mars, as well as MAVEN's overall orbit trajectory.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 warm, wet, and hospitable, refining our understanding of its early potential for life.
  • MAVEN Spacecraft and Instrument Footage
    2012.07.30
    Below are broadcast-quality b-roll clips of integration, testing, and fabrication of the MAVEN spacecraft and its instruments.
  • Mars Climate History
    2012.07.15
    These animations show various conceptual animations depicting a transition from a "Wet" Mars that may have existed long ago to the "Dry" Mars we see today.
  • 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!
  • 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!

  • Employee Profiles (Spanish)
    2012.05.30
    Spanish-language profile videos of MAVEN project managers Sandra Cauffman and Carlos Gomez-Rosa.
  • 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.
  • MAVEN Launch
    2014.11.12
    The MAVEN spacecraft launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on November 18, 2013 on an Atlas V rocket. This is a compilation of footage from the launch.
  • Mars Orbit Insertion Highlights
    2014.11.12
    The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft arrived at Mars on September 21, 2014. NASA TV broadcasted a 70-minute live program as MAVEN entered Mars' orbit.
  • MAVEN Statistics
    2014.11.12
    The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission launched on November 18, 2013 and arrived at Mars on September 21, 2014.