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12/11/2013
08:36 AM
Elena Malykhina
Elena Malykhina
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NASA Mars MAVEN Mission: 5 Facts

How did Mars lose its atmosphere? NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, now en route to the Red Planet, aims to find out.
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10-month journey  
The MAVEN mission successfully launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 18 at 1:28 p.m. EST. Shortly after liftoff, the 5,400-pound spacecraft deployed its solar arrays and began producing power. Before it can start collecting science data, MAVEN must complete a check-out period. The 10-month journey is expected to bring the spacecraft to its final destination -- Mars' orbit -- on Sept. 22, 2014. At its highest point, MAVEN is expected to be more than 3,728 miles above the surface of Mars to capture ultraviolet images of the entire planet. The combination of measurements and global imaging will offer a better understanding of the upper atmosphere, according to NASA.

10-month journey
The MAVEN mission successfully launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 18 at 1:28 p.m. EST. Shortly after liftoff, the 5,400-pound spacecraft deployed its solar arrays and began producing power. Before it can start collecting science data, MAVEN must complete a check-out period. The 10-month journey is expected to bring the spacecraft to its final destination -- Mars' orbit -- on Sept. 22, 2014. At its highest point, MAVEN is expected to be more than 3,728 miles above the surface of Mars to capture ultraviolet images of the entire planet. The combination of measurements and global imaging will offer a better understanding of the upper atmosphere, according to NASA.

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cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/12/2013 | 12:51:12 PM
Was Mars the first to experience global warming?
Getting the answer to the question of what happened to Mars' atmosphere is key to narrowing the search for more earth-like planets in the galaxy. Mars probably falls into what is considered the inhabitable zone in relation to its star, but that zone may be too broadly defined if being as close as Mars causes all your liquid water to disappear. Or perhaps Mars went through its own form of global warming, which destroyed its ability to sustain the presence of liquid water. The traces of the seas once on Mars are unmistakeable.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
12/11/2013 | 8:38:42 PM
Absolutely Astonishing
The fact the this much equipment can be packed into a spaceship and blasted off from Earth to Mars, about 50 million miles away, is amazing enough in its own right. Then consider that due to the limitation of the speed of light, it takes about 1/2 an hour to send a command and receive an answer in order to control the equipment. Then consider that they are trying to map out the geological history of an entire planet. It almost makes me think that actually sending humans there will almost be a letdown compared to - THIS.
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