Dr. David Brain, Friday, 12-13-13 December 14, 2013Posted by The Space Show in Uncategorized.
Tags: Comet Siding Spring, Curiosity, Deep Space Network, Dr. David Brain, Earth magnetic field, government shutdown, Indian Mars mission, instrumentation backup, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars magnetic field, Mars one, Mars traffic management, Martian atmosphere, Martian methane, Martian rocks, Martian water issues, MAVEN Instruments, MAVEN Mission, mission development timeline, radiation shielding, spaceflight hardware Mars simulation, spaceflight hardware testing, Trace Gas Orbiter
Dr. David Brain, Friday, 12-13-13
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We welcomed Dr. David Brain of the NASA MAVEN Mission team to the program for a discussion about MAVEN and Mars science. In the first segment of our 1 hour 22 minute program, Dr. Brain provided us with an overview of the MAVEN Mission which was launched on Nov. 18. As we heard, it is on track for its orbital insertion around Mars on Sept. 22, 2014. I asked Dr. Brain if he thought Mars orbits were getting crowded and also if he knew if there were traffic management issues in orbiting Mars. We also talked about the Indian Mars mission, Mangalyaan, as it was launched a few days before MAVEN and will arrive shortly after MAVEN arrives at Mars. Dr. Brain, in describing MAVEN, said it was going to answer two questions: 1) What happened to the atmosphere of Mars and 2) What happened to the water and where did it go? We then talked about the absence of a Martian magnetic field but we learned that there are strongly magnetized rocks along the edges and such rocks are 10-20 times the magnetic strength of similar rocks on Earth. Dr. Brain provided us with theories on this. We extrapolated that it was possible for something similar to happen on Earth. He also talked about magnetic fields, how one might generate a magnetic field on Mars & more. This latter point was in reply to a listener question asking if terraforming included creating a Martian magnetic field. Our next topic dealt with how these types of missions are developed, the hardware and scientific tool risk issues, the use of heritage hardware and instruments, program funding, and review panels. Marshall called and talked about instrument redundancy, electronic improvements from mission to mission and more. We also talked about sending data back to Earth using the Deep Space Network (DSN). This brought up questions about private Mars missions using the DSN for their communications.
In the second segment, Doug called to ask how MAVEN was impacted by the government shutdown. Dave relayed the shutdown stories to us which were most interesting, especially since it went right up to the minute for possible mission delays of 18-24 months. In fact, MAVEN did get an exemption from the shutdown but not because of its science. It was exempted because of its function as a communications relay satellite. Also in this segment, Dave responded to listener questions asking how the instruments are designed, tested, and protected for their trip to Mars so they would be sure to work. Dave took us through the entire process for planning, designing, developing and testing hardware & operating components over and over again. This is a fascinating inside look at what is involved in a successful Mars, lunar, or planetary mission. Doug then asked about methane on Mars and here Dave had much to say about competing methane theories and the latest findings from instruments on Mars including Curiosity.
Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog above. Dr. Brain can be contacted through me.