Back in 2008, John Putman started his piece in the Goddard Space Flight Center’s
“The Building 3 Auditorium was filled to capacity on November 14 as Goddard
employees gathered to learn about the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution
(MAVEN) mission. MAVEN is Goddard’s first managed Mars mission.”
And last week, NASA finally gave the "Green Light" for production to begin on the latest Mars Exploration mission, and it's cluster of instruments.
Using the Goddard-built instruments packed on-board, (a mass spectrometer and a
magnetometer) MAVEN will obtain detailed measurements of Mars’ upper
atmosphere, ionosphere, planetary corona, and solar wind. These measurements
will help us understand the histories of Mars’ climate, liquid water, and planetary
Dave Mitchell of Goddard, is the MAVEN Project Manager.
Mitchell introduced the Principal Investigator for MAVEN, Dr. Bruce Jakosky of
the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).
In his introduction, he said, “If you look up ‘Mars scientist,’ you’d find a picture of
In regards to the decision to have Goddard manage the MAVEN program,
Dr. Jakosky says, “Goddard had the right attitude and it was the right move.”
He said also that water, and perhaps life, was on Mars at some point in the past.
There is also evidence that the Martian atmosphere has been lost to space.
Lockheed Martin, based in Littleton, Colo., will build the MAVEN spacecraft and carry out mission operations for MAVEN. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will navigate the spacecraft. LASP will provide science operations and data packaging and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will provide management and technical oversight for the mission.
According to the LASP/MAVEN website:
“MAVEN will be the second mission of NASA's Mars Scout program, a recent initiative by the agency for smaller, lower-cost spacecraft. In 2007, NASA launched the first Mars Scout Mission, the Phoenix mission that is now operating on the surface of Mars. The multi-phase MAVEN proposal by LASP was four years in development. In the largest research contract ever awarded to the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has been selected by NASA to lead a $485 million orbiting space mission slated to launch in 2013 to probe the past climate of Mars, including its potential for harboring life over the ages.”
The MAVEN science team includes three LASP scientists heading instrument teams -- Nick Schneider, Frank Eparvier and Robert Ergun. The MAVEN mission will also include a number of CU-Boulder graduate and undergraduate students in the coming years. Currently there are more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students working on research projects at LASP, providing training for future careers as engineers and scientists.
NASA's Mars Exploration Program was designed to help characterize and understand Mars as a dynamic system, including its present and past environment, climate cycles, geology and biological potential. The Mars Exploration Program is managed for NASA by JPL.