The first maneuver of ‘immersion’ of MAVEN

The first programmed maneuver of ‘immersion’ was successfully completed to allow the probe MAVEN to collect data on the state of the Martian upper from a close distance.
“The usual mappings are able to take measurements from a distance that is between 150 and 6200 km from the surface,” says Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator for MAVEN at the laboratories for the study of Space Physics, University of Colorado. “During the campaign we call the ‘deep dive’ we reach the lowest point of the orbit, the periapside, which is about 125 kilometers from the surface, in this way we can collect data across the entire upper atmosphere of the planet.”


Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The only 25 kilometers that differentiate the distance measurements analyzed in normal and one made with the maneuver of deep immersion may seem a small difference; in fact, the density of the atmosphere is ten times greater than that at close distance that can be analyzed at 150 kilometers from the surface of Mars.
This first campaign of close investigation took place between 10 and February 18. The first three days were used to meet the quota of periapside, while the other five days a probe orbited for about 20 times at that altitude around Mars, which now in turn revolved around itself as it was being probed, allowing a global sampling of the atmosphere around the planet.
The maneuver began with the engineers of the research team engaged in the delicate task of pushing the probe up to the periapside, but without going too deeply into the atmosphere, so the maneuver was carried out with three different firing rocket engine , which allowed to reach the desired height in small steps and very gently.
“We did not want absolutely to jeopardize the integrity of the probe,” adds Jakosky “while wanting to reach the lowest altitude possible,” in fact, although at these altitudes the atmosphere is quite thin, it is thick enough to create a friction that could reach to damage the probe and the board instrumentation.


Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

At the end of the measurement campaign deep two maneuvers reported MAVEN usual position held for normal science operations. The data that were collected will be analyzed in the next few weeks and made the system with those collected during ‘normal’ mapping operations, in order to be able to have a complete picture of the state of the Martian atmosphere and the deterioration process that interested.
One of the main objectives of the mission MAVEN is indeed to understand the process that led to the door and the atmospheric gases to disperse into space, and how this process has affected the climate changes that have affected the planet. The dispersed gas is ‘off’, so to speak by the states more external atmosphere, while are the most internal and dense that most influence the performance of the climate.
Thanks to MAVEN mission, through the study of both the outer atmospheric regions, both of those groped inner, we want to better understand what the mechanisms of interaction between the different regions are.

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