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Status Update on NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft


On February 22, 2022, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft went into safe mode when the spacecraft’s Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) began exhibiting anomalous behavior. The spacecraft is currently out of safe mode, stable and in Earth-nadir mode, pointing its high gain antenna toward Earth to facilitate high-rate communications. In this configuration, however, MAVEN cannot perform communications relays for other spacecraft on Mars and is performing only limited science observations. The mission team began science instrument recovery on April 20.

Safe mode began when the IMUs, navigation instruments that sense the spacecraft’s rotation and control the pointing of the orbiter’s antenna and science instruments, exhibited anomalies when turning on after a power cycle. MAVEN stayed in safe mode until April 19 when the mission team switched the spacecraft to rely on stellar navigation instead of the IMUs, which is known as “all stellar” mode.

All MAVEN’s science instruments are currently online, but not all of them have been able to take data while the high gain antenna is restricted to pointing toward Earth.

The team is currently working to finish checkouts of “all stellar” mode to enable the spacecraft to operate in other orientations prior to resuming nominal science and relay operations by the end of the month.

Nancy Jones
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland



Last Updated
Oct 02, 2023
Jamie Adkins