Maven, a NASA spacecraft, enters orbit over Mars. According to NASA, the Maven spacecraft effectively completed an engine run to reach Martian orbit and start its journey to investigate the atmosphere of the Red Planet. The Martian ionosphere contains a thin film of metal ions as a consequence of entering interplanetary dust striking the upper atmosphere, and MAVEN delivered its inaugural direct observations of this layer.
MAVEN Spacecraft’s Mission
Originally an aspect of NASA’s now-cancelled Mars Scout Programme, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) expedition was chosen to investigate the planet’s environment and aurora and how they are influenced by the Sun and the solar winds.
MAVEN spacecraft discovered that the Sun is the main cause of Mars’ atmosphere depletion. The solar wind is the aggregate name for the stream of hot, extremely energetic particles that the Sun releases.
MAVEN spacecraft’s tool for taking these pictures is the Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS). It took these pictures in 2022 and 2023 when Mars was at different points in its path around the Sun.
UV Images by MAVEN Spacecarft
The IUVS tool takes pictures using light that we can’t usually see. To help us see it, the pictures show different light brightness levels as red, green, and blue. Using these colors, the air’s ozone looks purple, and clouds look white or blue. The surface can look tan or green, depending on the picture.
The first picture by MAVEN spacecraft was taken in July 2022, when Mars was close to the Sun. It was summer in the southern part of Mars. In the picture, you can see a large area called the Argyre Basin, filled with a light pink haze. You can also see the white southern polar ice cap. It’s smaller because it’s summer and warmer. More water vapor is in the air because of the heat and dust storms. This is why Mars loses more hydrogen during this time.
MAVEN spacecraft took second picture which shows the northern part of Mars in January 2023. This was when Mars was farthest from the Sun. Many white clouds are near the north pole because the seasons change quickly. In this picture, the cold winter nights have caused more ozone to form. Then, the ozone goes away in the spring because of reactions with water vapor.
MAVEN Spacecraft Project
The Pentagon’s Project termed as Maven spacecraft uses equipment algorithmic learning to sift through vast amounts of intelligence, spying, and reconnaissance information, including autonomous footage, document, hard drives for computer systems, thumb drives, and more, that have been gathered by the department and intelligence organisations for use operationally by the services.
Insights of MAVEN Spacecarft on Mars
MAVEN spacecraft was sent to space in November 2013 and started orbiting Mars in September 2014. The mission aims to study Mars’ upper atmosphere and how it interacts with the Sun and solar wind. This helps scientists learn more about how Mars’ atmosphere is escaping into space. Knowing this helps us learn about Mars’ past air, climate, and water and if it could have supported life. The MAVEN team is preparing for September 2024, when the probe will have been on Mars for ten years.
The person in charge of MAVEN works at the University of California, Berkeley. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland runs the project. Lockheed Martin Space made the spacecraft and managed the mission. In Southern California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory assists with tracking the spacecraft and the Deep Space Network. The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder manages the science activities and talks to the public.