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NASA satellite launched to find clues about Mars’ lost water

An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air force Station in Florida on Monday, sending a Mars orbiter on its way to find out about how the planet most like Earth within the sun system lost its water.

In contrast to previous Mars probes, the Mars ambiance and risky Evolution Mission, or MAVEN, will not be having a look at or landing in the world’s dry, dusty floor. Instead, MAVEN will scan and pattern what remains of the thin Martian ambiance and watch in actual-time how it is peeled away, molecule by means of molecule, via killer sunlight radiation.

Step one of the planned year-long, $671 million mission was once getting MAVEN into area. The satellite, tucked within a protective nosecone, lifted off aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket at 1:28 p.m. EST/1838 GMT to begin a 10-month flight to Mars.

United Launch Alliance is a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.




Upon arrival, MAVEN will hearth its braking rocket to put itself right into a highly elliptical orbit around Mars, so that you can allow it to dip down as close as about 65 miles (one zero five km) from the bottom to collect air samples for prognosis.

At its easiest level, MAVEN shall be about three, 728 miles (6,000 km) away, a vantage point for measuring how so much and what kinds of radiation are sweeping past the planet from the sun and cosmic sources. The purpose of the project is to determine how a lot of the environment is being misplaced to house these days and extrapolate back in time to figure out what was once going down in Mars’ earlier.

In the forty nine years considering NASA’s Mariner four spacecraft flew through Mars for the first time, an increasingly more refined sequence of orbiters, lenders and rovers have accrued solid evidence that the fourth planet from the sun was once far more like Earth, with oceans, rivers, rain and snow.

“We see numerous evidence for liquid water having flowed over the surface in earlier period. We see river channels, options that appear to be there have been lakes inside affect craters. We see minerals that kind handiest in the presence of liquid water,” stated lead scientist Bruce Jakosky, with the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“All of these counsel that there has been water on this planet early in time and today in fact we see a cold, dry, desolate tract-like planet,” he mentioned. Determining what came about to Mars’ local weather hinges on finding out what happened to the planet’s water and the once-thick atmosphere wanted to maintain Mars heat enough for floor water.

The information also is predicted to assist scientist’s house in on when in Mars’ history it will have been most fitted for existence to adapt.

NASA’s ongoing Curiosity rover mission is scouting for doable habitats that will have supported microbial existence.

“Water is a requirement for life and if we take note the place the water has been and why it is not there anymore we are able to research more about what the historical past of the opportunity of existence has been,” Jakosky mentioned. There are two choices for where the planet’s lacking water and atmosphere went: down into the ground or up into space.

Scientists know one of the vital planet’s carbon dioxide ended up on the outside and joined with minerals within the crust. But so far, the ground inventory isn’t big enough to account for the early, thick atmosphere Mars would have needed to give a boost to water on its surface. MAVEN is designed to discover the opposite possibility, that the water and environment had been lost into house, a process that started about four billion years ago when the planet’s protective magnetic container mysteriously became off.

“The sun, the sun wind can force processes that remove gas from the highest of the environment. We need to keep in mind whether or not the solar used to be able to take away fuel from the highest of the environment and how a lot,” Jakosky mentioned. MAVEN is as a result of attaining Mars on September 22, 2014 – two days ahead of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, which launched on November 5. India’s probe has been elevating its orbit around Earth and will have to be in place on December 1 to begin the trip to Mars.