NASA MAVEN ON TRACK FOR MONDAY LAUNCH TO MARS!
Illustration Credit: NASA/JPL: CLICK to view full size photo and look below for videos and many relevant links including where to watch LIVE!
The United States and NASA are heading to Mars again MONDAY! On November 18, 2013 at 1828 UTC (1328 EST) a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5-401 Rocket designated as Flight AV-038 will be launching the $671 million dollar, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) probe on a ten-month journey to the Red Planet from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41 or “Slick” 41) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida which is home to the US Air Force, 45th Space Wing.
Once it reaches Mars on September 14, 2014 MAVEN’s goal is to use its eight science instruments to hunt for Mars’s missing atmosphere and determine what effect the loss of that atmosphere had on the climate through time. It will also attempt to find where all the water went that used to be abundant on the Martian surface. It is hypothesized that the Sun has over time stripped the atmosphere away. In order to complete its mission it will be placed in an elliptical orbit which will bring MAVEN from about 3,728 mi (6000 km) all the way down to approximately 93 mi (150 km) from the Martian surface with an additional series of five deep dips which will bring the dare devil probe a very close 77 mi (124 km) from the surface.
MAVEN with its solar panels deployed is BIG, stretching 37.5ft or 11.4m and weighs 5,410 lbs. or 2454 kg. The body itself isn’t that massive as its only 8ft or 2.4m pretty much square but it takes a mass of solar panels to operate. This date was chosen because Earth and Mars are in a position to allow for a low energy launch onboard an Atlas-V-401 rocket. If there is a major delay they will have to wait 2 years (26 months) before launch would be possible.
The Atlas-5 (V) rocket is a two-stage rocket that stands 191.3ft (58.3m) tall with a diameter of 12.5ft (3.81m) and consists of an Atlas Common Core Booster with a Russian RD-180 engine and first stage with a United States RL-10 Centaur upper stage built by AeroJet Rocketdyne.
401 configuration explained.
4 = 4.2 meter fairing (head of the rocket)
0 = 0 external solid rocket boosters
1 = 1 single engine upper (second) stage named Centaur.
Want more Atlas-V-401 detail….ok!
MAIN PAYLOAD FAIRING: The Main Payload Fairing for the Atlas-V-401 is a two-shell, 4.2 meter (diameter) fairing and is used to protect the spacecraft during its ascent through atmospheric turbulence and into space. Once safely out of Earth’s atmosphere (Or at least most of it), the fairing splits and is jettisoned.
CENTAUR UPPER STAGE: The Centaur Upper stage consists of a single Cryogenic RL-10A-4-2 (RL-10) Aerojet Rocketdyne Engine that utilizes liquid hydrogen (LH2) for propellant and liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer with a burn time of up to 740 seconds to include multiple engine firings. There are also four 27-N (Newton) thrusters and eight 40-N (Newton) thrusters used for attitude control. Both utilize hydrazine as propellant.
COMMON CORE BOOSTER (First-Stage): The American Atlas-V Common Booster Core is 106.5ft (32.46m) in length by 12.5ft (3.81m) in diameter and is powered by a single two-chamber Russian RD-180 engine that utilizes Rocket Propellant-1 (RP-1 or Kerosene) as propellant and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) as the oxidizer and can burn for 253 seconds. The RD-180 engine is modeled after the 4-chanber RD-170 engines used by the Zenit rocket family.
Watch MAVEN launch LIVE:
NASA MAVEN homepage: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/maven/main/
NASA JPL MAVEN page: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/future/maven/
NASA MAVEN Twitter: https://twitter.com/MAVEN2Mars
United Launch Alliance (ULA) MAVEN Mission booklet: http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/missionbooklets/AV/av_maven_mob.pdf
United Launch Alliance (ULA) MAVEN mission page: http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Launch.shtml#/45/
ULA Twitter: https://twitter.com/ulalaunch
U-Colorado: Boulder MAVEN page: http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/
MAVEN Twitter: https://twitter.com/MAVEN2Mars
NASA MAVEN YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/MAVEN2Mars
NASA Flickr page for MAVEN: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto/sets/72157637731075053/
United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V page: http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Products_AtlasV.shtml
45th Space Wing (Patrick AFB) Twitter: https://twitter.com/45thSpaceWing
Patrick AFB (45th Space Wing) (Cape Canaveral): http://www.patrick.af.mil/
Aerojet Rocketdyne: http://www.rocket.com/
Spaceflight 101 Atlas V-401 data page: http://www.spaceflight101.com/atlas-v-401.html
NASA Goddard: MAVEN Mission to MARS:
MARS Underground MAVEN Mission:
NASA MAVEN Press Conference: