MAVEN: Capturing data from Mars

When NASA's MAVEN spacecraft powers up on the launch pad for its journey to Mars in mid-November, one University of Colorado Boulder student will be especially pleased to see the spacecraft disappear into the heavens over Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Christopher Fowler, a doctoral student in the astrophysical and planetary sciences department, is one of scores of CU-Boulder students, faculty and other professionals involved in the $670 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, a NASA mission being led by CU-Boulder. Fowler's charge is to help convert data from the MAVEN mission -- which is targeting the atmosphere of the Red Planet to understand how it went from a warm, wet planet suitable for life several billion years ago to a cold dry planet today -- to a format scientists can use.