Planets and Moons  ID: 20223

MAVEN Stellar Occultation

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) is the first spacecraft specifically designed to study the upper atmosphere of Mars. MAVEN's goal is to determine how Mars lost its thick early atmosphere, and with it, its once hospitable climate.

While previous Mars orbiters have peered down at the planet's surface, MAVEN is spending part of its time gazing at the stars, observing the Martian atmosphere through a series of stellar occultations. As Mars rolls beneath MAVEN, due to the spacecraft's own orbital motion, background stars rise and set behind the planet. Their light dims as it passes through the tenuous atmosphere, with specific gases absorbing specific wavelengths. MAVEN uses its Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph to break apart this light and see which wavelengths are absorbed, allowing it to determine atmospheric composition at varying altitudes.
 

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Animation Credits

Brian Monroe (USRA): Lead Animator
Bruce Jakosky (LASP): Lead Scientist
Nick Schneider (LASP): Scientist
Dan Gallagher (USRA): Producer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

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Mission:
MAVEN: Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN

This item is part of this series:
MAVEN

Goddard TV Tape:
G2015-007 -- MAVEN Sci Early

Keywords:
SVS >> Mars
SVS >> Spectrum
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere
SVS >> Spectroscopy
SVS >> MAVEN
SVS >> Star
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
SVS >> Spectrograph

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0