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Topic: NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft

NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft captures images of Martian Night Sky Pulsing in Ultraviolet Light

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Vast areas of the Martian night sky pulse in ultraviolet light, according to images from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. The results are being used to illuminate complex circulation patterns in the Martian atmosphere.

The MAVEN team was surprised to find that the atmosphere pulsed exactly three times per night, and only during Mars’ spring and fall. The new data also revealed unexpected waves and spirals over the winter poles, while also confirming the Mars Express spacecraft results that this nightglow was brightest over the winter polar regions.

This is an image of the ultraviolet “nightglow” in the Martian atmosphere. Green and white false colors represent the intensity of ultraviolet light, with white being the brightest. The nightglow was measured at about 70 kilometers (approximately 40 miles) altitude by the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph instrument on NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. (NASA/MAVEN/Goddard Space Flight Center/CU/LASP)

This is an image of the ultraviolet “nightglow” in the Martian atmosphere. Green and white false colors represent the intensity of ultraviolet light, with white being the brightest. The nightglow was measured at about 70 kilometers (approximately 40 miles) altitude by the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph instrument on NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. (NASA/MAVEN/Goddard Space Flight Center/CU/LASP)

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NASA Scientists take new look at Voyager 2 Data, Find new Discovery about Uranus

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Eight and a half years into its grand tour of the solar system, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft was ready for another encounter. It was January 24th, 1986, and soon it would meet the mysterious seventh planet, icy-cold Uranus.

Over the next few hours, Voyager 2 flew within 50,600 miles (81,433 kilometers) of Uranus’ cloud tops, collecting data that revealed two new rings, 11 new moons and temperatures below minus 353 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 214 degrees Celsius). The dataset is still the only up-close measurements we have ever made of the planet.

Voyager 2 took this image as it approached the planet Uranus on Jan. 14, 1986. The planet's hazy bluish color is due to the methane in its atmosphere, which absorbs red wavelengths of light. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Voyager 2 took this image as it approached the planet Uranus on Jan. 14, 1986. The planet’s hazy bluish color is due to the methane in its atmosphere, which absorbs red wavelengths of light. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA looks into amount of Atmosphere lost by Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – According to new observations by NASA-funded scientists, a key tracer used to estimate how much atmosphere Mars lost can change depending on the time of day and the surface temperature on the Red Planet.

Previous measurements of this tracer – isotopes of oxygen – have disagreed significantly. An accurate measurement of this tracer is important to estimate how much atmosphere Mars once had before it was lost, which reveals whether Mars could have been habitable and what the conditions might have been like.

This artist’s concept depicts the early Martian environment (right) – believed to contain liquid water and a thicker atmosphere – versus the cold, dry environment seen at Mars today (left). (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

This artist’s concept depicts the early Martian environment (right) – believed to contain liquid water and a thicker atmosphere – versus the cold, dry environment seen at Mars today (left). (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA explains Mars Solar Conjunction, Why Does It Matter?

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The daily chatter between antennas here on Earth and those on NASA spacecraft at Mars is about to get much quieter for a few weeks.

That’s because Mars and Earth will be on opposite sides of the Sun, a period known as Mars solar conjunction. The Sun expels hot, ionized gas from its corona, which extends far into space. During solar conjunction, this gas can interfere with radio signals when engineers try to communicate with spacecraft at Mars, corrupting commands and resulting in unexpected behavior from our deep space explorers.

This animation illustrates Mars solar conjunction, a period when Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. During this time, the Sun can interrupt radio transmissions to spacecraft on and around the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This animation illustrates Mars solar conjunction, a period when Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. During this time, the Sun can interrupt radio transmissions to spacecraft on and around the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter finishes 60,000 trips around Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter completed 60,000 loops around the Red Planet at 10:39am PDT (12:39 pm CDT) on Wednesday morning, May 15th, 2019. On average, MRO takes 112 minutes to circle Mars, whipping around at about 2 miles per second (3.4 kilometers per second).

Since entering orbit on March 10th, 2006, the spacecraft has been collecting daily science about the planet’s surface and atmosphere, including detailed views with its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (HiRISE). HiRISE is powerful enough to see surface features the size of a dining room table from 186 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface.

This still from an animation shows NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter soaring over Mars. The spacecraft has been in Mars orbit for 13 years, and just completed 60,000 trips around the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This still from an animation shows NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter soaring over Mars. The spacecraft has been in Mars orbit for 13 years, and just completed 60,000 trips around the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft to reduce Orbit around Mars

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s 4-year-old atmosphere-sniffing Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission is embarking on a new campaign today to tighten its orbit around Mars.

The operation will reduce the highest point of the MAVEN spacecraft’s elliptical orbit from 3,850 to 2,800 miles (6,200 to 4,500 kilometers) above the surface and prepare it to take on additional responsibility as a data-relay satellite for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which launches next year.

“The MAVEN spacecraft has done a phenomenal job teaching us how Mars lost its atmosphere and providing other important scientific insights on the evolution of the Martian climate,” said Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. “Now we’re recruiting it to help NASA communicate with our forthcoming Mars rover and its successors.”

Aerobraking plan for MAVEN. (left) Current MAVEN orbit around Mars: 6,200 kilometers (~3,850 miles) at highest altitude, and an orbit period of about 4.5 hours. (center) Aerobraking process: MAVEN performs a series of "deep dip" orbits approaching to within about 125 kilometers (~78 miles) of Mars at lowest altitude, causing drag from the atmosphere to slow down the spacecraft. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Kel Elkins and Dan Gallagher)

Aerobraking plan for MAVEN. (left) Current MAVEN orbit around Mars: 6,200 kilometers (~3,850 miles) at highest altitude, and an orbit period of about 4.5 hours. (center) Aerobraking process: MAVEN performs a series of “deep dip” orbits approaching to within about 125 kilometers (~78 miles) of Mars at lowest altitude, causing drag from the atmosphere to slow down the spacecraft. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Kel Elkins and Dan Gallagher)

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NASA will use multiple spacecraft to monitor Insight Landing on Mars

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What’s the sound of a touchdown on Mars? If you’re at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it sounds like winning the Super Bowl: cheers, laughter and lots of hollering.

But in the minutes before that, NASA’s InSight team will be monitoring the Mars lander’s radio signals using a variety of spacecraft – and even radio telescopes here on Earth – to suss out what’s happening 91 million miles (146 million km) away.

This image depicts the MarCO CubeSats relaying data from NASA's InSight lander as it enters the Martian atmosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image depicts the MarCO CubeSats relaying data from NASA’s InSight lander as it enters the Martian atmosphere. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Orbiters observe Dust Storm on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Storm chasing takes luck and patience on Earth — and even more so on Mars.

For scientists watching the Red Planet from data gathered by NASA’s orbiters, the past month has been a windfall. “Global” dust storms, where a runaway series of storms creates a dust cloud so large it envelops the planet, only appear every six to eight years (that’s three to four Mars years). Scientists still don’t understand why or how exactly these storms form and evolve.

In June, one of these dust events rapidly engulfed the planet. Scientists first observed a smaller-scale dust storm on May 30th. By June 20th, it had gone global.

Side-by-side movies shows how dust has enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) wide-angle camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Side-by-side movies shows how dust has enveloped the Red Planet, courtesy of the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) wide-angle camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA studies Thickest Dust Storm ever seen on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft to learn from the swirling dust.

NASA has three orbiters circling the Red Planet, each equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments. Additionally, NASA’s Curiosity rover has begun to see an increase in dust at its location in Gale Crater.

This set of images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fierce dust storm is kicking up on Mars, with rovers on the surface indicated as icons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This set of images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fierce dust storm is kicking up on Mars, with rovers on the surface indicated as icons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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A Look Back at the Journey of NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A panoramic image that NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover took from a mountainside ridge provides a sweeping vista of key sites visited since the rover’s 2012 landing, and the towering surroundings.

The view from “Vera Rubin Ridge” on the north flank of Mount Sharp encompasses much of the 11-mile (18-kilometer) route the rover has driven from its 2012 landing site, all inside Gale Crater. One hill on the northern horizon is about 50 miles (about 85 kilometers) away, well outside of the crater, though most of the scene’s horizon is the crater’s northern rim, roughly one-third that distance away and 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) above the rover.

A viewpoint on "Vera Rubin Ridge" provided NASA's Curiosity Mars rover this detailed look back over the area where it began its mission inside Gale Crater, plus more-distant features of the crater. The right-eye, telephoto-lens camera of the rover's Mastcam took the component images Oct. 25, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

A viewpoint on “Vera Rubin Ridge” provided NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover this detailed look back over the area where it began its mission inside Gale Crater, plus more-distant features of the crater. The right-eye, telephoto-lens camera of the rover’s Mastcam took the component images Oct. 25, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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