Lockheed Martin has completed the assembly of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, the company announced on Friday. The orbiter is now undergoing environmental testing at the company's Space Systems facilities, near Denver, Colo. MAVEN is the next mission to Mars and will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere.
Lockheed will put the orbiter through a variety of rigorous tests that simulate the extreme temperatures, vacuum and vibration the spacecraft will experience during the course of its mission. Currently, the spacecraft is in the company's Reverberant Acoustic Laboratory being prepared to undergo acoustics testing that simulates the maximum sound and vibration levels the spacecraft will experience during launch.
"The assembly and integration of MAVEN has gone very smoothly and we're excited to test our work over the next six months," said Guy Beutelschies, MAVEN program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.
MAVEN is scheduled to ship from Lockheed Martin's facility to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in early August where it will undergo final preparations for launch.
Scheduled to launch in November, MAVEN is a robotic exploration mission to understand the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time. It will investigate how much of the Martian atmosphere has been lost over time by measuring the current rate of escape to space and gathering enough information about the relevant processes to allow extrapolate backward in time.
“The spacecraft is entering system level test right on schedule, while maintaining robust cost and schedule reserves to deal with the technical or programmatic surprises that could occur during test or in the run to launch,” said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The university will provide science operations, science instruments and lead education/public outreach. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the project and provides two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colo., built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory provides science instruments for the mission.
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