MAVEN launches to Mars

18 Nov

Watch the launch video:

MAVEN (which stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) launched on schedule at 1:28pm EST (18:28 UTC) on Monday, November 18, 2013 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida atop an Atlas V rocket, supplied by United Launch Alliance. With the on-schedule launch at the beginning on the launch window, MAVEN’s 10-month journey to Mars will see it arrive in orbit of the red planet on September 22, 2014.

MAVEN launched atop an Atlas V rocket (courtesy NASA/United Launch Alliance)

MAVEN launched atop an Atlas V rocket (courtesy NASA/United Launch Alliance)

Once in orbit around Mars, MAVEN will help us to understand what happened on Mars that caused it to transform from a warm, wet world into the dry desert we know today. In other words, where did the atmosphere and water go, and how did it happen?

In order to achieve its goals, MAVEN has eight instruments bundled into three scientific suites. These instruments include: the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer, Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph, Magnetometer, Solar Wind Electron Analyzer, SupraThermal And Thermal Ion Composition, Langmuir Probe and Waves antenna, Solar Energetic Particles, and the Solar Wind Ion Analyzer.

With its “gull wing” solar arrays fully extended, MAVEN’s wingspan comes in at 11.3 meters (37 feet). The dry mass is 903 kg (1,991 lbs), with an additional 1,645 kg (3,627 lbs) of fuel. The solar arrays provide a maximum power output of 1135 watts at Mars aphelion.

MAVEN's Instruments

MAVEN’s Instruments

The month of November is also a historically significant month for space exploration – and in particular the exploration of Mars. In November 1971, Mariner 9 successfully entered orbit around Mars and became the first human made object to orbit another world – just ahead of the twin Soviet probes Mars 2 and Mars 3. Read more about that here.

To learn more about MAVEN, check out the NASA mission page here, or watch this MAVEN mission overview:

MAVEN rolling to the launch pad

MAVEN rolling to the launch pad

MAVEN on the launch pad

MAVEN on the launch pad

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