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Maven launched by NASA to study Mars
Nov 19, 2013

Evidence suggests Mars was once shrouded in a thick blanket of gases that supported the presence of liquid water at its surface, but air pressure is now too low. Thus to study this phenomenon NASA has launched a mission to Mars, aimed at studying how and why Mars lost its atmosphere, once thought to be similar to Earth's. By analyzing the planet's upper atmosphere and measuring current rates of atmospheric loss, MAVEN scientists hope to understand how Mars transitioned from a warm, wet planet to the dry desert world we see today.

Maven — short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, with a capital "N'' in EvolutioN — bears eight science instruments. 

The spacecraft will orbit at about 4,000 miles (6400 km) above the planet for a year, recording changes in its atmosphere. 

This is NASA's 21st mission to Mars since the 1960s. But it's the first one devoted to studying the Martian upper atmosphere.

The mission costs $671 million.


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