NASA is preparing to launch a probe November 18, Maven, in the upper layer of the atmosphere of Mars in order to better understand the reasons for the disappearance of most of its atmosphere.
Maven (March Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission ), in orbit around Mars, explore the upper atmosphere and ionosphere and interactions with the Sun and the solar wind, explained Monday officials mission at a press conference.
>> Anglophones can enjoy the explanations of NASA video below
“Solving the puzzle of the past and present environment of Mars”
“Maven will help us understand the climate history of Mars, which is in fact the history of its habitability,” said Bruce Jakosky, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado, chief scientist for the mission. “The Maven mission is an important step to solve the puzzle of the past and present environment of Mars,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission responsible.
Mars has had in the past a denser atmosphere conducive to the presence of water on its surface. But at a major climate change, most of its atmosphere escaped into space, the scientists explain.
measurements by Maven should determine the role that loss of compounds in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and water over time. This will give a clearer picture of the history of the atmosphere and climate of Mars, water and habitability of the planet.
Arrival Mars orbit in September 2014
probe of 2.45 tonnes will be launched aboard an Atlas V rocket, at United Launch Alliance, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida (southeast) on November 18 at 5:28 p.m. GMT at beginning of a launch window for twenty days, and for a one-year mission. Marven ten months will reach Mars orbit in September 2014.
After arriving and five weeks of instrument calibration, the probe will go into an elliptical orbit that will allow observations at all latitudes. During a first phase, Maven will execute maneuvers which will dive up to 150 km from the Martian soil, the lower limit of the upper atmosphere. Its altitude varies from 150 km to over 6000 km.
Maven will be equipped with eight scientific instruments, the sensor SWEA (Solar Wind Electron Analyzer), developed by the IRAP, the French Research Institute for Astrophysics and Planetology, analyze electrons in the solar wind magnetosphere of Mars. Maven is the second mission of the U.S. Scout program, small cheap missions dedicated to the exploration of Mars. Its cost is less than $ 500 million, excluding launch.