Intended to study the Martian atmosphere as it is today, MAVEN will also attempt to determine what caused the loss of both surface water and most of the atmosphere Mars is believed to have once possessed.
Among the instruments MAVEN will take with her are packages designed to measure solar wind, ultraviolet imaging tools, and a mass spectrometer.
Using an Atlas V rocket to begin her journey, MAVEN will be lifting off the pad at 1:28 PM ET on November 18th, 2013. In case of delays, though, she can launch as late as December 7th and still rendezvous with Mars as planned. Missing that window, however, would result in a 26 month delay.
And that’s not all that will be headed for space in the next 7 days. 5 other launches will be taking place in various parts of the world with the purpose of long- and short-term satellite placement.
So congratulations to the MAVEN team and all others who look ahead!