NASA's $670 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) thundered towards the heavens right on time at 1:28pm EST Monday, Nov 18, 2013. The Mars-bound spacecraft has a half-billion mile, ten-month journey ahead of it before reaching the Red Planet in September 2014, when it will - for the first time – be devoted entirely to understanding the upper atmosphere of Mars and the role loss of atmosphere has played in the evolution of the planet. Mars was once wet and had an atmosphere capable of (possibly) giving life the recipe it needed to thrive, and MAVEN will shed more light on exactly why the Red Planet is now a dead, dry, desolate landscape.

All images © copyright 2013 Mike Killian Photography, all rights reserved.

For AmericaSpace and The Mars Society

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