NASA’s next Mars mission, Maven, is being prepared for its mission within Lockheed Martin’s high-bay cleanroom at a facility in Littleton, Colo. CREDIT: Leonard David/SPACE.com

Maven’s Haven: NASA’s Next Mars Mission Preps for Launch

by Leonard David, Space Insider Columnist
Date: 19 December 2012 Time: 04:22 PM ET

LITTLETON, Colo. – NASA’s next mission to the Red Planet is undergoing extensive testing in preparation for its launch next year.

Here within a Lockheed Martin Space Systems high-bay cleanroom, technicians are in tender-loving-care mode, busily outfitting and testing the Mars Atmosphere And Volatile EvolutioN (Maven) spacecraft.

This probe has a literal thirst for knowledge.

The goal of Maven, a $670 million Mars orbiter, is to study how Mars loses its atmospheric gas to space, and the role this process has played in changing the Martian climate through time. Mars’ atmosphere is cold and dry today, but there was once liquid water flowing over the surface. So where did the atmosphere — and the water — go?

Read more: Maven's Haven: NASA's Next Mars Mission Preps for Launch | Mars Maven Orbiter | Space.

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