by Cat Ellen, contributing writer
MAVEN scheduled to arrive
On the evening of September 21, 2014, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft should arrive and enter into Martian orbit after completing the 442 million mile trek from Earth to Mars. The current mission timeline places MAVEN in orbit likely around 7:00 p.m., Pacific.
“So far, so good with the performance of the spacecraft and payloads on the cruise to Mars,” said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The team, the flight system, and all ground assets are ready for Mars orbit insertion.”
After achieving initial orbit and then spending six weeks testing and maneuvering, MAVEN will embark on a one-Earth-year mission measuring and examining the upper atmosphere of Mars.
“The MAVEN science mission focuses on answering questions about where did the water that was present on early Mars go, about where did the carbon dioxide go,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. “These are important questions for understanding the history of Mars, its climate, and its potential to support at least microbial life.”
Curiosity arrives at Pahrump Hills
Meanwhile, Curiosity has been headed over towards Mount Sharp. Curiosity Rover driver Matt Heverly from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) posted a lovely image to Twitter, welcoming the rover to Pahrump Hills.
“We have been driving hard for many months to reach the entry point to Mount Sharp,” said Jennifer Trosper, Curiosity Deputy Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Now that we’ve made it, we’ll be adjusting the operations style from a priority on driving to a priority on conducting the investigations needed at each layer of the mountain.”
Images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) helped Curiosity’s team identify mesas near Pahrump Hills, which include an exposed section of the Murray formation. The team plans to drill and sample material for further analysis.
- Mars Exploration Program
- Twitter: @MarsRovers, Spirit and Oppy
- Twitter: @MarsCuriosity
- Twitter: @NASAJPL
- Facebook: NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Cat Ellen is a technical writer by trade, an occasional copy editor
and beta reader, and has a passion for teaching ATS bellydance and
numerous textile arts, notably drop spindle and card weaving.