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Maven to Mars

NASA launches unmanned "Maven" spacecraft to Mars. Chris Clackum reports.
NASA launches unmanned "Maven" spacecraft to Mars. Chris Clackum reports.

NASA launched its Maven orbiter on Monday to begin a journey that could unravel the mysteries surrounding Mars' past and current atmosphere -- and perhaps reveal how the planet lost its life-friendly environment.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket rose from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 in Florida at 1:28 p.m. ET, carrying the probe into space to kick off its $671 million mission.

If all goes according to schedule, the bus-sized, 2.7-ton spacecraft will enter Martian orbit next September to study the Red Planet's upper atmosphere over the course of at least one Earth year.

Read More: http://nbcnews.to/1gYLClM

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