KPCCRadio (via YouTube)
On Monday, Nov. 18, we watched NASA launch its most recent exploratory mission to Mars: the MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission.
The Planetary Society hosted this live launch party as the spacecraft left the Kennedy Space Center for the Red Planet. What will MAVEN do? The goal is to examine the upper reaches of the thin Martian atmosphere to help answer some of the biggest questions about the planet. Where did its once plentiful water go? How long did it take Mars to lose the seas and rivers that may have contained life? And what can we learn about conditions that led to life on Earth?
That’s it in a nutshell, but you can find out more and watch the launch live with Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan, Society director of projects Bruce Betts, and the Society's planetary evangelist, Emily Lakdawalla, on stage at the Crawford Family Forum. Bill Nye the Science Guy will check in from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with space celebrities, including planetary scientist and author Jim Bell and members of the MAVEN team.
Mat Kaplan: producer of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society. @PlanRad
Jim Bell: professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe; adjunct professor in the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; president of The Planetary Society. Jim has a main belt asteroid named after him (8146 Jimbell). @jim_bell
Bruce Betts: resident planetary scientist and Director of Projects for The Planetary Society. @RandomSpaceFact
Emily Lakdawalla: Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society. @elakdawalla
Bill Nye: the Science Guy and CEO of The Planetary Society. @TheScienceGuy
More about MAVEN:
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) will examine specific processes on Mars that led to the loss of much of its atmosphere. Data and analysis could tell planetary scientists the history of climate change on the Red Planet and provide further information on the history of planetary habitability.
The 5,410-pound spacecraft will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket on a 10-month journey to Mars. After arriving at Mars in September 2014, MAVEN will settle into its elliptical science orbit.
Over the course of its one-Earth-year primary mission, MAVEN will observe all of Mars' latitudes. Altitudes will range from 93 miles to more than 3,800 miles. During the primary mission, MAVEN will execute five deep dip maneuvers, descending to an altitude of 78 miles. This marks the lower boundary of the planet's upper atmosphere.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the project and provided two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory provided science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, Deep Space Network support, and Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.