The NASA spacecraft has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center, the solar panels have been attached, and preparations are almost complete. After a few final tests, America’s space agency will be set for the Nov. 18 launch of its next mission to the red planet.
Unlike NASA’s other recent missions to Mars — Opportunity and Curiosity — the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will orbit the planet instead of landing on its surface. The craft, which is tasked with analyzing the Martian atmosphere, is scheduled to reach Mars by September 2014.
“The MAVEN mission is a significant step toward unraveling the planetary puzzle about Mars’ past and present environments,” NASA’s John Grunsfeld said in a written statement.