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MAVEN arrives at Mars After 10-Month Journey From Space Coast

MAVEN launched from Florida's Space Coast. Photo courtesy NASA.

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NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft is finally orbiting Mars, after a 10-month journey that began on Florida’s Space Coast.

The spacecraft has been busy gathering data even before arriving at the Red Planet Sunday.

MAVEN is the first spacecraft to explore Mars’ upper atmosphere.

Pamela Conrad of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland says since leaving Earth the spacecraft has been busy gathering data from deep space.

“So that as it gets between Earth and Mars it understands the difference in the environment of Mars with respect to those interactions between the sun and the Mars atmosphere and what just happens in deep space.”

MAVEN will help scientists understand how atmospheric and climate changes transformed Mars from a world where large, flowing bodies of water made life possible to a cold, barren desert.

Eventually NASA wants to send astronauts to Mars. An unmanned test flight of Orion — the spacecraft designed for the mission —  is scheduled to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in December.

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s work has been heard on NPR and ... Read Full Bio »