Nasa Launches 'Maven' Space Craft To Mars (PICTURES)


Nasa's 'Maven' spacecraft is on its way to Mars after a picture-perfect launch.

The orbiter lifted off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral on Monday afternoon local time.

The craft - full name Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe - will arrive at the Red Planet in ten months. Once there it will enter an orbit above the surface to study how Mars transformed from a watery world possibly capable of sustaining life into the toxic desert it is today.

Nasa said that the 5,400-pound craft would play a key role in looking "for clues about the evolution of Mars through its atmosphere".

On its website Nasa added that Maven was "the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere".

Take a look at how the launch unfolded, below.

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