NASA’s MAVEN Satellite Sends First Pictures form Mars

NASA’s MAVEN Satellite Sends First Pictures Form Mars 3 photos
Photo: NASA
NASA’s MAVEN Satellite Sends First Pictures Form MarsNASA’s MAVEN Satellite Sends First Pictures Form Mars
After a 10 moth-travel in space, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) spacecraft arrived at the Red Planet Sunday night. Two days later, the Indian Mangalyaan probe also arrived. The two orbiters have recently beamed back their first snaps of Mars.
MAVEN has used its imaging UV Spectograph to grab false color images in three different UV wavelengths. According to NASA, the observations were taken from an altitude of 36,500 kilometers (22,680 miles). Blue shows the ultraviolet light from the sun scattered from atomic hydrogen gas in an extended cloud that goes to thousands of kilometers above the planet’s surface. Green shows a different wavelength of ultraviolet light that is primarily sunlight reflected off of atomic oxygen, showing the smaller oxygen cloud.

Finally, the red image shows ultraviolet sunlight reflected from the planet’s surface; the bright spot in the lower right is light reflected either from polar ice or clouds.

Maven’s one-Earth-year primary science mission is to make observations like these to determine the loss rate of hydrogen and oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. These observations will allow scientists to determine the amount of water that has escaped form the planet over time. According to the Agency, MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

As opposed to NASA’s orbiter, which is the size of a school bus, India’s first Mars probe is a lot smaller, weighing 2,980 pounds (1,350 kilograms). The two missions also costed different, considering the MAVEN was $671 million, while the Mangalyaan was $74 million.

10 Mars orbiters were launched by NASA so far

The Indian probe will also explore the surface feature of the Red Planet and probe its atmosphere for signs of nonbiological or microbe-emitted methane. The spacecraft is also designed to test technology used for navigation, communication and interplanetary space travel.

Human beings are getting closer and closer to the Red Planet, as MAVEN is the 10th Mars orbiter launched by NASA, and it is now one of five active probes currently orbiting the planet.

According to Space, besides the Indian mission who also just reached the planet, there are other three ones sent years ago: Mars Odyssey was launched in 2001, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express launched in 2003 and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched in 2005. NASA also has two rovers currently studying Mars from the surface of the planet: Opportunity and Curiosity.
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