HAO Colloquium Series presents Laila Andersson, University of Colorado

MAVEN: A mission to investigate the upper atmosphere of Mars

The two sister planets, Earth and Mars have both significant differences but also similarities. For instance, both planets are expected to initially be wet but now Mars is dry. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission was developed to observe today's upper atmosphere and the atmospheric loss processes. With that information the project will try to quantify the loss to space back in time. All of theinstruments on MAVEN satellite provide a comprehensive understanding of the upper atmosphere and the ionosphere. There is no instrument that investigates the planets surface onboard MAVEN. Above the exobase the Martian atmosphere is very similar to Earth. The Mars thinner atmosphere allows the MAVEN mission regularly fly down to the exobase(~150 km) and close to the F-layer in five deep dip campaigns (~120 km). MAVEN is presently in route to Mars and is expected to go into orbit in September of this year. The mission's prime objective is to evaluate different forcing on the upper atmosphere. Just a few weeks after reaching Mars, a first time retrograde comet is expected to pass Mars and the dust/plasma tail of the comet is expected to impact the upper atmosphere of Mars. This start of the MAVEN mission will provide a unique look at how a once in a life time transient effect can impact an atmosphere. The MAVEN mission will provide important measurement from another planet which will help us understand our own Earth.

Date and time: 
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm
S. Auditorium