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article imageNasa's Maven mission sets off for Mars

By Layne Weiss     Nov 18, 2013 in Science
Cape Canaveral - Nasa's Maven mission launched Monday at 1:28 p.m. from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and is on its way to Mars. If the $671 million mission stays on track, the orbiter will have a 10-month trip to the Red Planet.
According to an article by fellow Digital Journalist Robert Myles, MAVEN is the name that has been given to the Mars Atmosphere Volatile Evolution spacecraft that is going to Mars to examine its upper atmosphere "to a degree never before attempted." Its goal is to identify the reasons why the Red Planet has lost some of its upper atmosphere. The information gained from the trip could be essential in attaining a better understanding of the climate change on Mars. It can also shed more light on whether there was any life there.
Evidence implies that Mars was once covered in a thick blanket of gases that supported the presence of liquid water at its surface, BBC News reports. Today, the air pressure on the Red Planet is so low that free would water "instantly boil away." The atmosphere on Mars today is composed mostly of carbon dioxide and is extremely thin. The atmospheric surface pressure is just 0.6 percent of the Earth's surface pressure.
According to NASA, the MAVEN mission began on time as it lifted off at 1:28 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41.
"During cruise, we perform four planned trajectory correction manoeuvres where we fire thrusters to tweak the trajectory so that we arrive at the right place and time to go into orbit around Mars. At that point, we will fire a set of thrusters to slow down the spacecraft and get captured into orbit," Guy Beutelschies, MAVEN's program manager at manufacturer Lockheed Martin, explained, BBC News reports
NASA Television will air a news conference on MAVEN at around 4 p.m. EST.
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