Published: March 1, 2014

The Atlas V MAVEN spacecraft launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

The Atlas V MAVEN spacecraft launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Nov. 18, 2013.

CU-Boulder-led Mars mission Launch a success.

More than 1,200 Forever Buffs and their families watched the $671-million CU-Boulder-led MAVEN mission to Mars launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 18, 2013.

The crowd cheered as MAVEN began its 10-month journey to Mars. To get a sense of that journey, it would take 271 years and 221 days to drive the same distance going 60 miles per hour. Once it reaches Mars, MAVEN will study the planet’s upper atmosphere to help us better understand how it changed from potentially life-sustaining to barren and uninhabitable. Professor Bruce Jakosky is MAVEN’s principal investigator and serves as associate director for science at the university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, or LASP.

To mark its momentous journey, more than 300 alums and friends participated in an evening reception in Washington, D.C., in October and two days of festivities in Cocoa Beach, Fla., in November for the two days leading up to the launch. On campus, hundreds of students from kindergarten to eighth grade gathered at the University Memorial Center to count down and witness the liftoff in real time via giant screen.

CU-Boulder thanks its MAVEN event sponsors Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance and Exelis.

Photography by Patrick H. Corkery