Released on September 4, 2014
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile 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 volatile 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.