A new NASA probe is about to begin its 10-month trip to Mars. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft (MAVEN for short) is scheduled to launch on its way to the Red Planet today (Nov. 18) at 1:28 p.m. EST (1828 GMT). You can watch the live launch on SPACE.com beginning at 11 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) via NASA TV.
Don't let the diminutive size of the model in the photo above fool you. NASA's real MAVEN probe — which is currently tucked away inside the Atlas 5 rocket that will deliver it to space — is about the size of a school bus and packs a scientific punch. The $671 million mission is expected to peer into the Martian upper atmosphere to gather data about how Mars became the cold, dry world it is today. [See more photos of the MAVEN spacecraft]