Published: Sept. 10, 2014

The public is invited to attend a watch party at the University of Colorado Boulder on Sunday, Sept. 21, when NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, designed to understand past climate change on Mars, inserts itself into orbit after a 10-month journey to the planet.

The orbital insertion, the most important maneuver of the mission, will involve firing six thruster engines to shed velocity from the spacecraft, allowing it to be captured into Mars orbit. Televised by NASA, the event will be shown at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) Space Technology Building on the East Campus.

CU-Boulder is leading NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN mission. The event is free and open to the public, although seating will be limited. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and there is free parking. The orbit insertion, expected to last 34 minutes, will begin at 7:50 p.m. and end at 8:24 p.m.

From 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. there will be brief presentations by four LASP researchers on the mission: MAVEN Remote Sensing Package Manager Mark Lankton; MAVEN Extreme Ultraviolet Sensor Lead Scientist Frank Eparvier; MAVEN Science Data Management and Co-Investigator David Brain; and MAVEN Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph team member Mike Chaffin.

The primary goal of NASA’s MAVEN mission is to understand how the climate changed from a warm, wet and potentially habitable environment for life several billion years ago to the cold, dry and inhospitable planet observed today, according to CU-Boulder Professor Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator on the mission.

In addition, there will be a watch party at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21 regarding the MAVEN orbit insertion. The program will include live NASA TV coverage and a science panel hosted by museum Curator of Planetary Science Steve Lee and which will involve CU-Boulder MAVEN science team member Justin Deighan as well as representatives from Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, which is leading MAVEN mission operations, and United Launch Alliance in Centennial, which provided the launch vehicle.

For directions to LASP’s Space Technology Building located at 1234 Innovation Dr. in Boulder visit For more information on the LASP event contact Tom Mason at 303-492-8257 or

Admission to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science MAVEN event is $8 for members and $10 for nonmembers. Tickets for the event, to be held in Ricketson Auditorium, are available at or by calling 303-370-6000 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

Tom Mason, LASP, 303-492-8257
Jim Scott, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3114