Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -1°C
ten nine eight

NASA's MAVEN Mars mission launches from Kennedy Space Center

Arrival at Mars is scheduled for September 2014.

NASA HAS SUCCESSFULLY launched its unmanned MAVEN spacecraft toward Mars to study the Red Planet’s atmosphere for clues as to why Earth’s neighbour lost its warmth and water over time.

The white Atlas V 401 rocket carrying the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter blasted off on schedule at 6:28 pm (1.28 local time).

(Youtube/ NASA  Kennedy)

“Everything is looking good,” said NASA mission control.

The flawless liftoff of the $671 million spacecraft began its 10-month journey to Mars.

Arrival at Mars is scheduled for September 2014, with the science mission of the solar-wing paneled orbiter set to begin two months later.

The probe is different from past NASA missions because it focuses not on the dry surface but on the mysteries of the never-before-studied upper atmosphere.

imageMAVEN before launch at the Kennedy Space Centre. (Pic: AP Photo/John Raoux)

Much of MAVEN’s year-long mission will be spent circling the planet at a height of 6,000 kilometres above the surface.

However, it will execute five deep dips to a distance of just 125 kilometers above the Martian landscape to get readings of the atmosphere at various levels.

Researchers have described the mission as a search for a missing piece to the puzzle of what happened to Mars’ atmosphere, perhaps billions of years ago, to transform Earth’s neighbor from a water-bearing planet that might have been favorable for life to a dry, barren desert.

Read: India to launch first Mars mission tomorrow >

Read: Life on Mars? Not looking likely, says new NASA study >

© – AFP

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.