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Mars atmosphere mystery - soon to be solved?

Cape Canaveral, Monday November 18, 1:28 PM (1828 GMT). The NASA launched MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN), the unmanned spacecraft, heading to Mars to study the planet’s atmosphere. The Red Planet remains the source of many questions for scientists such as why it lost its warmth and water over time. Hopefully MAVEN’s expedition will unveil some of its secrets.

The journey to reach Mars will last 10 months, with an arrival scheduled for September 22, 2014. The $671 million mission will focus on exploring the planet’s upper atmosphere. For this year-long assignment, MAVEN will circle the planet 6,000 kilometers (3,800 miles) above the surface. It will also execute 5 deep dips to a distance of just 125 kilometers (78 miles) above the Red Planet landscape to get readings of the atmosphere at various levels.

Will we finally find the missing link explaining what happened to transform Mars from a water bearing planet to a dry desert? The NASA also hopes this mission will enable humans to travel to the Red Planet, possibly in 2030.