Originally published on November 15, 2013
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission is set to launch on November 18. The mission is NASA's second Mars Scout program aiming to examine Mars' upper atmosphere. The MAVEN spacecraft will be the first spacecraft ever to make direct measurements of the Martian atmosphere.
The spacecraft will carry eight science instruments divided into three instrument suits: the Particles and Fields Package, the Remote Sensing Package and the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer. The Particles and Fields Package contains six instruments that characterize the solar wind and the ionosphere of the planet. The Remote Sensing Package will determine the global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere. The Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer will measure the composition and isotopes of neutrals and ions.
The MAVEN spacecraft will provide information on how and how fast the Martian atmospheric gases are being lost to space today, which is an important information in helping to understand whether Mars had an environment able to support life.
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