The MAVEN spacecraft has successfully begun its third deep-dip campaign of the mission. On Tuesday, July 7th, the #MAVEN navigation team executed a maneuver to lower periapsis by 24 km down to 123 km above the surface of #Mars. At this altitude, Mars’ atmospheric density is currently 1.9 kg/km³. A second maneuver will place the #MAVEN spacecraft into the center of the target density corridor.
The MAVEN “deep dip” campaigns will provide data from the boundary where Mars’ upper and lower atmospheres meet—also referred to as the “homopause”—enabling the spacecraft to sample the entire upper atmosphere of Mars.
Deep-dip #3 continues to go well
The #MAVEN spacecraft is well within the target atmospheric density corridor for our third deep-dip campaign, with a periapsis near 120 km (75 miles) above the surface of Mars.
All spacecraft systems and instruments are performing nominally, although we do not expect to have results from the campaign until the spacecraft has exited the deep-dip.
Analysis by the #MAVEN navigation team shows that the spacecraft is still within the targeted atmospheric deep-dip corridor.
As a result, no maneuver has been made to adjust the location of the spacecraft within the corridor since the beginning of deep-dip #3. The density of #Mars‘ atmosphere at periapsis is decreasing slightly with time, as predicted by some of the models. At this rate, we may have to perform a maneuver to keep MAVEN within the density corridor before the “walkout” to resume normal science operations mid-week.