cloudy
Monday May 4th, 2015 5:10PM

NASA aims for Mars, with robotic Maven set to soar

By The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA is headed back to Mars, this time with a robotic scout named Maven that will attempt to solve the mystery of the red planet's radical climate change.

Maven is scheduled to blast off aboard an unmanned rocket at 1:28 p.m. Monday.

---

FLIGHT TIME

The journey to Mars will take 10 months, putting Maven in orbit around the red planet in September 2014. The spacecraft will circle the red planet for a full Earth year, examining the upper atmosphere. It will dip as low as 78 miles above Mars to sample the atmosphere. Its orbit will extend as high as 3,864 miles.

---

PURPOSE

Scientists want to learn how Mars transformed from a warm, wet planet a few billion years ago to the dry, cold world of today. The atmosphere went from thick to thin. Much of the atmospheric gas may have escaped into space. The sun is the likely culprit.

---

COST

The Maven mission will cost $671 million over its entire lifetime. That includes the price of the unmanned Atlas V rocket used to launch the spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

---

MAVEN SPACECRAFT

When its solar wings are extended, Maven stretches 37.5 feet - about the length of a school bus. It weighs 5,410 pounds, the same weight as an SUV. Eight scientific instruments are on board, as well as communications relay equipment for use with Mars landers. Maven stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, with a capital "N" at the end of EvolutioN. The idea for Maven dates back 10 years. Scientists hope to keep it going well beyond its advertised working lifetime of one Earth year. The project is led for NASA by the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder.

---

ABOUT MARS

Mars is the most similar planet to Earth in our solar system, with the greatest prospects of habitability for future astronauts. Mars is about half the size of Earth but has about the same land area. A Martian year lasts 687 Earth days.

---

MARS MISSIONS

Maven is NASA's 21st mission to Mars. Fourteen of the first 20 succeeded. The 1964 Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to fly by the red planet. Curiosity was America's most recent Mars visitor, launching in 2011 and landing in 2012.

---

CHUGGING AWAY AT MARS

Three spacecraft currently are collecting data in orbit around Mars: NASA's 2001-launched Mars Odyssey, Europe's 2003-launched Mars Express and NASA's 2005-launched Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Two rovers are on the surface, still working: NASA's 2003-launched Opportunity and 2011-launched Curiosity.

---

FUTURE MARS SHOTS

NASA plans to launch a robotic geologist named InSight in 2016; the lander will penetrate the Martian surface with a seismometer and heat probe. The next NASA wheeled rover will fly in 2020, collecting rock samples for potential return to Earth. A human expedition is not anticipated until the 2030s.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 week ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 3 weeks ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 3 weeks ago )
US Capitol lockdown lifted after man fatally shoots himself
WASHINGTON (AP) — A precautionary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol was lifted after about two hours Saturday following a suicide by a man carrying a protest sign.The man died after shooting himself on the...
6:15PM ( 3 weeks ago )