With Curiosity skimming the surface of Mars, NASA gears up its next expedition, MAVEN, for the Martian skies. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is scheduled to launch around November this year on its exploration mission to study the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet.
[caption id="attachment_45969" align="aligncenter" width="600"] MAVEN[/caption]
MAVEN is a collaboration between various contributing organizations including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Colorado, Boulder and University of California at Berkeley. MAVEN's principal investigator, science operations and science instruments owes to the Atmospheric and Space Physics Lab at UC Boulder, while JPL provides the navigation support. Further support comes from UC Berkeley and NASA's Goddard Flight Center on the science instruments.
Lockheed Martin is mainly responsible for the assembly and the orbiter is currently under construction at its Littleton facility in Colorado. The one-year mission aims to conduct operations to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space had in Mars' evolution. The launch window for this mission is said to be between November 18, 2013 and December 7, 2013.