mobile-bannertablet-bannerdesktop-banner
An artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission. Launched in November 2013, the mission will explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.
An artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission. Launched in November 2013, the mission will explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.Lockheed Martin/NASA
An artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission. Launched in November 2013, the mission will explore the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind.
MAVEN Atlas V Launch
NASA's MAVEN spacecraft, inside a payload fairing, is hoisted to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 on Nov. 8, 2013.
Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers and technicians perform a spin test of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft.
Engineers and technicians test deploy the twin solar arrays on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 23, 2013.
Technicians install the parabolic high gain antenna onto the MAVEN spacecraft in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on Aug. 9, 2013. The antenna will communicate vast amounts of data to Earth during the mission.
A crane lifts the MAVEN spacecraft inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on Aug. 3, 2013.
An engineer positions a sling on the MAVEN spacecraft inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. MAVEN will be prepared inside the facility for its scheduled November launch to Mars.
An artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission. Launched in November 2013, the missi
... VIEW MORE

Lockheed Martin/NASA
1 of 8

Journey to the Red Planet: MAVEN Approaches Martian Orbit

Sep 19, 2014

On Sept. 21, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will arrive in orbit around Mars and embark on a one-Earth-year long mission to collect data from the planet's upper atmosphere. MAVEN launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Nov. 18, 2013 and, over the last 10 months, covered a journey of 442 million miles to get where it's going. The spacecraft is the very first to be dedicated to the study and measurement of Mars' upper atmosphere.

“The MAVEN science mission focuses on answering questions about where the water that was present on early Mars [went], about where did the carbon dioxide go,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from the University of Colorado, Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in a statement. “These are important questions for understanding the history of Mars, its climate, and its potential to support at least microbial life.”

MAVEN, which is equipped with a telecommunications package that allows it to relay data from the Curiosity and Opportunity Rovers currently exploring the planet's surface, is one of several efforts NASA has undertaken to prepare for potential human exploration of Mars.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.