Mars probe arrives at Mars

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After nearly a year in space, NASA’s Mars probe Maven has been launched into orbit around Mars. The probe should provide answers to the question of how almost the entire atmosphere of Mars could evaporate.

The Maven probe, which stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, has traveled more than 711 million kilometers to reach the Red Planet. Maven, about 11 meters long and weighing nearly 2.5 tons, will orbit Mars every 4.5 hours for five weeks in an elliptical orbit. The probe flies between 150 and 6000 kilometers above the planet’s surface.

NASA hopes the data Maven collects will provide new insights into the disappearance of almost the entire atmosphere. The satellite will also try to find out where all the water that has ever been on Mars has gone.

Maven was launched on November 18 with an Atlas-V rocket from Cape Canaveral. NASA has earmarked $671 million, or EUR 522 million, for the mission. Four probes are already circling Mars, one of which is European, and an Indian satellite will soon be added.

NASA also announced Monday that it will send a time capsule for the upcoming Osiris-Rex mission, which will involve a satellite studying the asteroid Bennu. Anyone can send messages to NASA via social media using the hashtag #asteroidmission. Entries must be about the future of space research. When the capsule returns to Earth, which is expected in 2023, it will open. The satellite will be launched on September 3, 2016.

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