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NASA to Look at Climate Change - On Mars

NASA to Look at Climate Change - On Mars
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NASA to Look at Climate Change - On Mars

The U.S. space agency, NASA, expects to launch its next mission to Mars on Monday, sending an orbiter to look at the red planet's upper atmosphere.

Scientists hope that MAVEN, which stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, can help them better understand what happened to cause Earth's neighbor to lose its surface water and its atmosphere to thin. The causes of the dramatic climate changes on Mars over billions of years - from warm with liquid water on its surface to today's cold and barren desert world - have not previously been studied.

The spacecraft is set to launch from Cape Canaveral at 13:28 EST. Weather forecasters say there is a 60 percent chance that conditions will be good for the launch.

MAVEN will not arrive at its Mars orbit until September 22, 2014. At that point, the 2.5-meter cube will extend its gull-wing-shaped solar panels and begin its data collection.