Mars MAVEN Mission Poised for Launch —Will Seek to Answer: “If Mars Was Once Habitable, What Happened?” | The Daily Galaxy

When life was just beginning to emerge on Earth, Mars could also have been a watery world shrouded in a dense atmosphere that supported life. One of the reasons water no longer flows on Mars’s surface is because its atmosphere is less than 1% of the density of the Earth’s. 

NASA’s next mission to Mars is on schedule for its upcoming launch. MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, will blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket at 1:28 p.m. Eastern Time on November 18. Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatile compounds—such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and water—from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars atmosphere and climate change, liquid water, and the possibility of ancient life. “When we think about climate and habitability, Earth is all we know about right now,” University of Colorado’s Dave Brain, a co-investigator for the $670 million mission, told NBC News. “But wouldn’t it be neat if, long ago, Mars looked like Earth?”

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