Monday, November 18, 2013

NASA's MAVEN Mission Successfully Blasts Off To Solve Major Martian Mystery

NASA Launches Robotic Explorer To Mars -- Washington Post

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA’s newest robotic explorer, Maven, rocketed toward Mars on Monday on a quest to unravel the ancient mystery of the red planet’s radical climate change.

The Maven spacecraft is scheduled to make it to Mars next fall following a journey of more than 440 million miles.

Scientists want to know why Mars went from being warm and wet during its first billion years to cold and dry today. The early Martian atmosphere was thick enough to hold water and possibly support microbial life. But much of that atmosphere may have been lost to space, eroded by the sun.

Maven set off through a cloudy sky Monday afternoon in its effort to provide answers. An unmanned Atlas V rocket propelled the spacecraft toward Mars, launch controllers applauded and shook hands over the success.

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Update: What happened to Mars' atmosphere? MAVEN now on way to find out. -- Christian Science Monitor

My Comment: We will get some answers one year from now.