US to launch next Mars mission

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Mars
Washington, Aug 6: The US is set to launch its next mission to Mars in November and the spacecraft has already arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space agency NASA said.

A US Air Force C-17 cargo plane delivered the Lockheed Martin Corp.-built Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft from the Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado Friday.

"Over the weekend, the (MAVEN project) team confirmed the spacecraft arrived in good condition. They removed the spacecraft from the shipping container and secured it to a rotation fixture in the cleanroom," NASA said in a statement Monday.

In the next week, the team will re-assemble components previously removed for transport. Further checks prior to launch will include software tests, spin balance tests, and test deployments of the spacecraft's solar panels and booms, NASA said.

According to NASA, the mission will be dedicated to surveying the upper atmosphere of Mars in an effort to understand the role that the loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the climate of Mars.

MAVEN is scheduled to lift off in November to begin a 10-month voyage to Mars. It has a 20-day launch period that opens Nov 18.

IANS

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