New Glenn rocket to blast off for NASA’s Mars science mission in 2024
As part of the agency’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) launch services contract, the mission will be launched on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, with a targeted launch date of late 2024.
The ESCAPADE mission will focus on studying Mars’ magnetosphere using two identical small spacecraft developed by Rocket Lab, which will observe the interaction between the magnetosphere and the solar wind, as well as the flow of energy and plasma into and out of the magnetosphere.
Each satellite will carry three scientific instruments, including a magnetometer, an electrostatic analyzer, and a Langmuir probe, which will measure magnetic fields, ions and electrons, and plasma density, respectively.
The mission is expected to take 11 months to reach Mars and several months to adjust the spacecraft’s orbits before they can begin capturing data. Studying magnetospheres like Mars’ is important for understanding space weather, which can protect astronauts and satellites during their travels through the solar system.
The ESCAPADE mission is part of the NASA Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program and is expected to provide valuable insights into our understanding of space weather and magnetospheres.
“We are thrilled to pass this critical milestone, the culmination of two years of science and engineering work from a talented and dedicated team at UC Berkeley and our partners,” said Rob Lillis, space physicist at UC Berkeley and principal investigator for ESCAPADE. “We’re very excited to now move towards final designs, assembly, test, launch and get on our way to Mars.”_