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Mission Objectives
Science Instruments


Apoapsis: The largest distance between two objects in an orbit.

Periapsis: The smallest distance between two objects in an orbit.

External Links

MAVEN Factsheet

MAVEN Spacecraft
Mars ~ 2013-2016


MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN probe, is a NASA orbiter mission to study the planet Mars. It is part of NASA's Mars Scout Program.

The probe was selected on September 15, 2008. Its launch window is November 18 through December 7, 2013. It should enter Mars orbit 10 months after launch, in the fall of 2014. It has a planned nominal lifetime of 2 years.

The mission budget is $485 million (US dollars).

Mission Objectives

MAVEN Spacecraft
Artist's rendering of the MAVEN spacecraft, courtesy of NASA.

The probe is planned to enter Mars orbit in the fall of 2014 after 10 months en route. The nominal orbit is highly elliptical, with a periapsis of 150 km and apoapsis of 6242 km above the planet's surface. The orbit will be inclined to the planet's equator by 75°.

There are four primary science objectives:

  1. Determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time.
  2. Determine the current state of the upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interactions with the solar wind.
  3. Determine the current rates of escape of neutral elements and ions to space and the processes controlling them.
  4. Determine the ratios of stable isotopes in the martian atmosphere.

Science Instruments

There are three packages of instruments that will fly on the MAVEN craft: Particles and Field Package (P&F), Remote Sensing Package (RS), and Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS).

The P&F Package has 6 different instruments:

The instrument in the RS package is an Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer (IUVS), which will measure the global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere.

The NGIMS will measure the composition and isotopes of thermal neutrals and ions.


NASA Press Release, "NASA Selects 'MAVEN' Mission to Study Mars Atmosphere." September 18, 2008.