MAVEN is the first space craft designed exclusively for exploring the upper atmosphere. It was successfully launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 1:28 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.
The goal of MAVEN is to determine the history of the loss of atmospheric gases to space, providing answers about Martian climate evolution.
The MAVEN mission has four primary scientific objectives:
1. Determine the role that loss of volatiles to space from the Mars atmosphere has played through time.
2. Determine the current state of the upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interactions with the solar wind.
3. Determine the current rates of escape of neutral gases and ions to space and the processes controlling them.
4. Determine the ratios of stable isotopes in the Martian atmosphere.