Launched in november 2013 from the Kennedy Space Center, the MAVEN Mission (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) aims to study the Martian upper atmosphere and ionosphere, as well as their interactions with the solar wind.

MAVEN : Understanding Mars' climate history

IRAP Responsible : Christian Mazelle

The scientific context

Three-Four billion years ago, the Martian atmosphere was dense enough to allow the existence of liquid water on its surface. But following abrupt climate change, the red planet has lost almost all of its atmosphere. The data collected by the onboard instruments will lead, as soonn as 2015, to better understand the effects of the exhaust of the Martian atmosphere into space, to track the climate change on the Red Planet, its surface composition in liquid water and thus to study its past habitability.

The onboard instrumentation


The MAVEN probe carries out eight scientific instruments : a magnetometer, a mass spectrometer dedicated to the analysis of ions and neutral gas, a Langmuir probe, an imaging spectrometer in the ultraviolet, an analyzer of the solar wind electrons, an analyzer of the solar wind ions, a detector of the solar energy particles, an analyzer of the composition of the thermal and suprathermal ions. These instruments were designed by teams from the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the NASA Goddard and the IRAP (OMP-CNRS/Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier).

The implication of IRAP into the MAVEN mission

After being selected by the CNES in 2006, the IRAP has been responsible for the realization of the SWEA instrument (for "Solar Wind Electron Analyzer", spectrometer of the solar wind electrons) as part of the payload in the PFP ensemble ("Particle and Fields Package") with 5 instruments among the 9 Maven experiments (PI LASP, University of Colorado, Boulder). Here above is a picture of the SWEA instrument.

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