Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Wonder above NASA Triumphs with Maven's Mission to Mars

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Wonder above NASA Triumphs with Maven's Mission to Mars

Article excerpt

When it comes to exploring the planet Mars, a half-billion- dollar investment can go a long way. On Sunday, NASA's Maven spacecraft continued the space agency's remarkable run of engagements with Mars by successfully entering orbit around the red planet after a year-long 442 million-mile journey.

For the next six weeks, NASA will calibrate Maven's instruments so that in November, it can begin its unprecedented year-long exploration of the planet's upper atmosphere. If all goes according to plan, Maven, which stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, will gather data that will yield clues to how Mars went from a warm, wet world millions of years ago to a cold and dry one today.

Because of the success of the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers, NASA is developing a reputation for making remote explorations of Mars look easy.

Meanwhile, Mission Control will be the first to say that these trips to Mars aren't easy. Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to launching unmanned spacecraft and pointing them toward distant planets. …

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