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MAVEN is on the way to Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

18-11-2013 16:17 CST

Topics: mission status, MAVEN, rockets

A picture-perfect launch on an Atlas V rocket has sent MAVEN on her way to Mars. Two weeks ago, a rocket leapt off the launch pad to take India's Mars Orbiter Mission aloft. By comparison, today's launch seemed to take place in slow motion. Here's a replay:

Following the two-stage burn of Atlas and Centaur, the spacecraft coasted for about half an hour before Centaur fired again to place MAVEN on a direct-to-Mars trajectory. After separating from the Centaur, MAVEN quickly established contact with Earth through her low-gain antenna. A few minutes later, the solar panels deployed and started charging her batteries, and she was truly on her own and on her way to Mars.

Tracking Mars missions from Canberra

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Tracking Mars missions from Canberra
Shortly after MAVEN launched to Mars on November 18, 2013, its signal was picked up by two 34-meter Deep Space Network antennae in Australia: DSS-34, at center, and DSS-45, at right. Meanwhile, the 70-meter dish, DSS-43 (left), tracked Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Over the next three months, mission controllers will test out spacecraft systems and scientific instruments, culminating in the first use of the high-gain antenna. According to MAVEN's Twitter feed, today's on-time launch puts the mission on course for a September 22, 2014 arrival at Mars. The first trajectory correction maneuver will take place in two weeks, on December 3.

MAVEN launches to Mars

NASA / Bill Ingalls

MAVEN launches to Mars
MAVEN lifted off at 18:28 UTC on November 18, 2013, atop an Atlas V 401 rocket.
See other posts from November 2013


Or read more blog entries about: mission status, MAVEN, rockets


Mike Martinez: 11/18/2013 06:41 CST

What is the current fuel / oxygen mixture used now in most liquid propelled rockets? Does it still vary a bit?

Bob Ware: 11/18/2013 07:59 CST

Hi Mike... I looked for an answer but there are many criteria which make for no one real answer. There are many variables that have to be accounted for. This document may help you obtain some insight into your question. --- the title and authors are: Launch Vehicle Propulsion Design with Multiple Selection Criteria Joey D. Shelton* NASA, George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville Alabama Robert A. Frederickt The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama Alan. W. WilhiteJ The Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

Prasanna: 11/18/2013 08:40 CST

How are the timings of the midcourse corrections determined ?

Jon Joyce: 11/18/2013 10:48 CST

I live near Tampa, FL and I've seen a few launches when its at night time, or or at least getting dark but today there were too many clouds. I watched it on the news, but its always cool to see it with your own eyes. I just started looking through the website trying to figure out what MAVEN is for, and so far I got that it's to explore Mars' upper atmosphere. I just started following the Planetary Society. Thanks Bill Bye for getting me interested in Science again, I remember watching Bill Nye the Science guy in school, and now I've been watching your lectures, consider the following series, eyes of nye, Jupiter youtube series, the storytelling of science event, etc... You explain things simply and make it easy to remember, and make it more interesting. I hope to see you in more educational videos, and I have been sending letters to support the Planetary Society, hope it helps!

Deoy: 11/18/2013 10:52 CST

Congrats USA,...Congrats NASA,..Congrats all the MAVEN team...

zhaphod: 11/19/2013 01:35 CST

Can some one point me to a dummies guide for navigation to mars or other planets?

Emily Lakdawalla: 11/19/2013 04:30 CST

zhaphod: Here is an excellent guide: The Basics of Space Flight

sssrivastav: 11/20/2013 02:52 CST

Is it possible to trace MAVEN through as similar to other satellites?

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