We have liftoff!

November 18, 2013 •
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft thundered off the launch pad aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:28 p.m. EST Friday, beginning a 10-month journey to Mars orbit. MAVEN will take critical measurements of the Martian upper atmosphere to help scientists understand climate change over the Red Planet's history.
"Our team is incredibly excited," said principal investigator Bruce Jakosky. "Everything went absolutely perfectly, exactly as we had planned when we accepted the challenge to develop this mission five years ago. Now it's on to Mars."
The spacecraft is carrying three instrument suites. LASP’s Remote Sensing Package will determine global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere, while the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer, provided by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will measure the composition of neutral gases and ions.

The Particles and Fields Package, built by the University of California at Berkeley with some instrument elements from LASP and NASA Goddard contains six instruments to characterize the solar wind and the ionosphere of Mars.

NASA selected the MAVEN mission for flight in 2008. Scientists think Mars was much more Earth-like roughly four billion years ago, and want to know how the climate changed, where the water went and what happened to the atmosphere, said Jakosky, also a professor in the geological sciences department.

CU-Boulder also is providing science operations and directing education and public outreach efforts. NASA Goddard provided two of the science instruments and manages the project. In addition to building the spacecraft, Lockheed Martin will perform mission operations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena provides program management via the Mars Program Office, as well as navigation support, the Deep Space Network and the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

MAVEN is slated to begin orbiting Mars in September 2014. For more information about MAVEN visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/ and www.nasa.gov/maven.