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MAVEN orbit insertion timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

21-09-2014 12:55 CDT

Topics: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), mission status, MAVEN

Today's the day that MAVEN enters orbit at Mars, bringing the number of Mars orbiters up to four for the first time since November 5, 2006, when we lost Mars Global Surveyor. So far, everything looks good; the mission reported on Twitter yesterday that they waved off their penultimate opportunity for a trajectory correction maneuver, and that the navigators estimate that without doing any more pre-arrival burns they will achieve their target periapsis altitude.

The orbit insertion burn should begin tonight at 18:50 PDT / 01:50 UTC. I'll be on stage with Mat Kaplan and Rich Zurek at Planetary Radio Live, keeping up to date with the latest news from the spacecraft; you can watch the Planetary Radio Live MAVEN Orbit Insertion webcast here!

MAVEN enters orbit


MAVEN enters orbit
MAVEN starts the rocket burn to enter Mars orbit at 18:50 PDT September 21 (01:50 UTC on September 22), 2014. The orbit insertion maneuver will begin with six thruster engines firing briefly to damp out deviations in pointing. Then, the six main engines will quickly ignite and burn for 33 minutes to slow the craft, allowing it to be captured in an elliptical orbit with a period of 35 hours. Six smaller maneuvers will be performed later to bring the highest and lowest points of the orbit to the altitudes desired for the science orbit. At its closest point, MAVEN will be flying in the upper atmosphere, about 150 kilometers above the surface.

Here's a timeline of events this evening, in Pacific, Universal, European, and -- for our new Mars mission fans in India, who are eagerly anticipating Mars Orbiter Mission's arrival -- Indian time. Unlike Mars Orbiter Mission, MAVEN will have no period in Mars' shadow, nor is there expected to be any communications blackout during orbit insertion. That's because MAVEN is arriving into a polar orbit and will never disappear behind Mars as seen from the Earth or the Sun; Mars Orbiter Mission will have an equatorial orbit and so must travel behind Mars and into its shadow.

EventTime (rel)Time (PDT)Time (UTC)Time (CEST)Time (IST)
First fault protection reconfiguration -20h Sep 20
Sep 21
Sep 21
Sep 21
Naviagtion Advisory Group recommendation for TCM-5b -7h 20m Sep 21
Sep 21
Sep 21
Sep 22
Targeted TCM-5b start time (if required) -5h 37m Sep 21
Sep 21
Sep 21
Sep 22
Disable fault protection not required to complete burn
Pressurize propellant system
Configure vehicle for fast safe mode recovery
-1h Sep 21
Sep 22
Sep 22
Sep 22
Planetary Radio Live webcast begins -50m 18:00 01:00 03:00 06:30
Reconfigure for low-gain antenna communication throughout burn -35m 18:15 01:15 03:15 06:45
Slew to burn attitude -20m 18:30 01:30 03:30 07:00
Burn attitude slew complete -10m 18:40 01:40 03:40 07:10
30-second settling burn with 6 TCM engines
Staggered IGNITION of 6 main engines
  18:50 01:50 03:50 07:20
Earliest burn completion +32m 19:22 02:22 04:22 07:52
Nominal burn completion +33m 19:23 02:23 04:23 07:53
Latest burn completion +37m 19:27 02:27 04:27 07:57
Planetary Radio Live webcast ends +40m 19:30 02:30 04:30 08:00
Start slew back to Earth point +45m 19:36 02:36 04:36 08:06
Earth point slew completion +55m 19:46 02:46 04:46 08:16
Transition to high-gain antenna communication (if safe) +1h 9m 20:00 03:00 05:00 08:30
MOI burn confirmation
Detailed vehicle state assessment
+2h 10m 21:00 04:00 06:00 09:30
Navigation orbit verification +3h 39m 22:30 05:30 07:30 11:00

After all this, it will be another seven weeks before MAVEN will be ready for its science mission. Here is a list of what to look forward to -- including a few key events on Mars Orbiter Mission and with a passing comet.

First week after MAVEN Mars Orbit Insertion (Sep 21-28)

  • Sep 22: MAVEN Transition to Transition Phase Configuration; possible IUVS observation
  • Sep 22: At 09:12 UTC, Mars Orbiter Mission test-fires its main engine
  • Sep 24: Periapsis Lowering Maneuver 1 -- a rocket burn at apoapsis will reduce the spacecraft's orbital energy and drop its periapsis closer to the planet
  • Sep 24: At 02:00 UTC, Mars Orbiter Mission arrives
  • Sep 26: MAVEN Period Reduction Maneuver 1 -- a rocket burn at periapsis will shrink the size of the orbit, lowering the apoapsis

Second week after MAVEN arrival (Sep 29-Oct 4)

  • Oct 2: Period Reduction Maneuver 2

Third week after MAVEN arrival (Oct 5-11)

  • Oct 5: Periapsis Lowering Maneuver 2
  • Oct 6: Particles and Fields package checkout; Periapse Time Estimation data collection
  • Oct 7: Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) pre-deploy checkout 1
  • Oct 9: Period Reduction Maneuver 3
  • Oct 10: Langmuir Probe and Wves (LPW) deployment
  • Oct 11: Articulated Payload Platform and Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA) deployment

Fourth week after MAVEN arrival (Oct 12-18)

  • Oct 13: Payload Platform calibration / Remote sensing instrument checkout
  • Oct 14: NGIMS checkout 2 / cover deploy
  • Oct 16: Comet Siding Spring science begins

Fifth week after MAVEN arrival (Oct 19-25)

  • Oct 19: At 18:32 UTC, Siding Spring passes by Mars
  • Oct 22: Post Siding Spring spacecraft checkouts
  • Oct 23: Periapsis Lowering Maneuver 3
  • Oct 24: Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) scans

Sixth week after MAVEN arrival (Oct 26-Nov 1)

  • Oct 24: LPW sync and modes
  • Oct 28: Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) and Magnetometer (MAG) scans
  • Oct 29: Electra Bit Error Rate, Sniff, Switch exercise (Electra is not a science instrument; it is the communications relay for landed Mars missions like Curiosity and Opportunity.)
  • Oct 30: Periapsis Lowering Maneuver 4
  • Oct 31: Payload Platform calibration / Remote sensing instrument checkout repeat

Seventh week after MAVEN arrival (Nov 2-8)

  • Nov 3: LPW ping test
  • Nov 4: MAG roll
  • Nov 5: NGIMS checkout 3
  • Nov 6: Engineering dry run; Electra communications pass with Curiosity
  • Nov 7: Orbit trim maneuver 0
  • Nov 8: Science start
See other posts from September 2014


Or read more blog entries about: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), mission status, MAVEN


Shreerang Kaulgi: 09/22/2014 05:39 CDT

Maven enters Mars orbit. That's the first news I read after waking up here in India. Congratulations to the MAVEN team. We hope that the MOM will be equally successful, now that it's 4 sec "wake up" burn is successful. We hope both craft will complement each other's mission goals.

AJA: 09/22/2014 08:07 CDT

Didn't realise that MAVEN was power-positive throughout the entire MOI. I had to open NASA Eyes and check that genius trajectory myself. ++Shoutout to the mighty Atlas V :)

Radeh: 09/22/2014 09:03 CDT

As a Kerbal, I would know exactly how to do such a burn...although, I would probably cheat a bit using Mechjeb. When in doubt, always fit more rockets!

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