10:18am

Mon November 18, 2013
Space

VIDEO: Watch CU Boulder’s MAVEN Launch To Mars

A University of Colorado Boulder led mission to Mars blasts off Monday morning. It’s the first time CU Boulder has led such a mission.

The mission is being led by Bruce Jakosky of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. He says MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission) is trying to answer the question, ‘what happened to the climate on Mars?’

“The goal is to build off of some of the recent measurements that spacecraft’s have made that tell us that there’s been a lot of water on Mars, a very different climate early in its history,” Jakosky said. “We’re trying to answer the question of what happened to the climate? Where did the water go? Where did the carbon dioxide go from an early atmosphere?”

An Atlas 5 rocket will carry instruments built by CU-Boulder, NASA and the University of California Berkeley. Once it gets to Mars, the instruments will gather data from the upper Martian atmosphere.

“What we’re going to do is examine the structure and composition, the energy inputs into the upper atmosphere, the solar wind, the solar ultraviolet-light, and solar energetic particles that come out of major storms on the sun, and see how the atmosphere responds,” Jakosky said.

MAVEN will be guided by CU-Boulder and was built by Lockheed Martin in Lakewood.

The launch will take place Monday morning at Cape Canaveral in Florida at 1:28 p.m. ET. The trip to Mars takes 10 months, meaning MAVEN will go into orbit around Mars in Sept. 2014.

Update 11:30 a.m. - Successful liftoff for MAVAN aboard an Atlas 5 rocket. NASA tweeted the launch:

Update 12:04 p.m. - NASA has posted video of the launch, it is embedded below: