A light-hearted look from the upcoming MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission to Mars of what it takes to create a satellite mission for NASA — even before you ever start building it. And the MAVEN folks should know — NASA has just given the mission a green light to continue the development of the mission, which will investigate the mystery of how Mars lost much of its atmosphere. The approval to proceed followed a review at NASA Headquarters of the detailed plans, instrument suite, budget, and risk factor analysis for the spacecraft. You can see how that all works, (presumably problem free) in this witty little video.
MAVEN is set to launch in 2013 and will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind. Scientists will use MAVEN data to determine the role that loss of volatile compounds, such as CO2, NO2, and H2O, from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.