MAVEN Identifies Links in Chain Leading to Atmospheric Loss

Maven over Mars

Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Early discoveries by NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s newest ‪#‎Mars‬ orbiter are starting to reveal key features about the loss of the planet’s atmosphere to space over time.  The STATIC and SWIA Instruments, developed at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab are both prominently mentioned in the article.

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FOXSI flight completed, with success!


FOXSI Rocket launches from White Sands Missile Range: Image courtesy NASA/FOXSI

FOXSI launched right on time, at 12:11 MST.  During the observation time we observed at least a few solar sources, most likely active regions (as expected).  We also had minutes of observation on the quiet Sun to look for nanoflares.  The observation was tense, but fruitful!  Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this a success!

Update Courtesy of Lindsay Glesener, Follow the Mission Status

FOXSI 2 Set to Launch from White Sands December 11, 2014


The Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager, or FOXSI, mission launched for the first time in November 2012, as shown here. It will fly again on a sounding rocket for a 15-minute flight in December 2014 to observe hard X-rays from the sun. Image Credit: NASA/FOXSI

On December 11, 2014, the Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager, or FOXSI, mission will launch aboard a sounding rocket for a 15-minute flight with very sensitive hard X-ray optics to observe the sun. This is FOXSI’s second flight – now with new and improved optics and detectors. FOXSI launched previously in November 2012. The mission is led by Säm Krucker of the University of California in Berkeley.

There is no live feed out of White Sands but Lindsay Glesner will be updating mission status. 

FOXSI Mission Specifics

Place: White Sands Missile Range
Date:  Thursday, Dec. 11
Launch time:  12:10 MST / 11:10 PST
Total flight: ~15 minutes
Observation time above 150 km:  6.5 minutes


2014 AGU Public Lecture on MAVEN mission


The 2014 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Public Lecture will be held this Sunday, December 14th from 12 – 1 p.m. (PST) in the Marriott Marquis on 4th and Mission St. The focus of the lecture will be on the MAVEN mission and the speakers will include MAVEN Principal Investigator, Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN Deputy Project Manager at NASA Goddard, Sandra Cauffman, and MAVEN Interdisciplinary Scientist, Roger Yelle from the The University of Arizona.

At the Public Lecture, the panelists will discuss the mission science concept, science observations made during the cruise to get there, observations of Comet Siding Spring, and early observations of the Mars upper atmosphere. They will also go into detail about how the spacecraft was developed and launched, and the day-to-day operations as it orbits ‪#‎Mars‬.

If you’re in San Francisco or will be for the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting, hop on a cable car and head over to the Marriott Marquis for this year’s public lecture.

For more information, visit:

The Evolution of Mars


The MAVEN mission is the first to focus on the upper atmosphere of Mars. Currently in orbit around the red planet, it should deepen our understanding of how Mars’s climate has evolved over the last four billion years.

MAVEN Deputy Principal Investigator, Janet Luhmann, from the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley has written a great mission summary for the Room space journal.

MAVEN‬ is now fully into its Science Phase


MAVEN relayed the image shown here from Curiosity’s Navigation Camera to Earth on November 6th (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

MAVEN Status Update: Dec. 3, 2014

David F. Mitchell,
MAVEN Project Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

‪#‎MAVEN‬ is now fully into its Science Phase at ‪#‎Mars‬ and the scientists have been releasing exciting results, not the least of which were recent findings from the Comet Siding Spring encounter. The Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer was able to observe intense emissions from magnesium and iron ions in the atmosphere in the aftermath of the comet encounter. TheNeutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer directly sampled and determined the composition of comet dust in Mars’ atmosphere, something that has never been done before. Our Solar Energetic Particle instrument observed significant solar activity both in the form of flares and coronal mass ejections from the Sun to Mars. We also generated a map of Mars’ ozone layer in the lower atmosphere. Finally, we’ve been able to provide a view of the escaping atmosphere of Mars showing the loss of atomic oxygen, atomic carbon, and atomic hydrogen. Great science with much more to come!

Final pre-Science Phase checkouts of the MAVEN system also included a full demonstration of the Electra Relay capability between MAVEN and the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. MAVEN relayed the image shown here from Curiosity’s Navigation Camera to Earth on November 6th. This image shows part of the “Pahrump Hills” outcrop and was taken at Mars on October 23rd.

Read the full update, here:

NASA Goddard
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Lockheed Martin

Contact Lost with Sun-watching Stereo B

Despite rescue efforts, no one has heard from one of two NASA spacecraft on the far side of the Sun since October 1st.

Solar physicists always worry about the damage to Earth that might occur if the Sun were to unleash a titanic flare and zap our planet with a potent blast wave of energetic particles. So, during the past two decades, NASA has launched a series of spacecraft designed to keep tabs on the Sun and the “space weather” it creates.

Locations of Stereo A and B on November 21, 2014

Key to this plan is Stereo, the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory. Launched in 2006, Stereo A looped around the Moon and swung into a heliocentric orbit “ahead” of Earth, while Stereo B took up a solar orbit “behind” the Earth. They provide views of the Sun and its surroundings from angles we can’t see.

– Read the complete article here

NASA’s Van Allen Probes Spot an Impenetrable Barrier in Space


A cloud of cold, charged gas around Earth, called the plasmasphere and seen here in purple, interacts with the particles in Earth’s radiation belts — shown in grey— to create an impenetrable barrier that blocks the fastest electrons from moving in closer to our planet. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard

Two donuts of seething radiation that surround Earth, called the Van Allen radiation belts, have been found to contain a nearly impenetrable barrier that prevents the fastest, most energetic electrons from reaching Earth.

The complete article can be read here, courtesy of