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In Brief

Meet MAVEN: NASA's Next Mission to Mars (Photo)

A model of NASA's MAVEN mars probe at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
A model of NASA's MAVEN mars probe at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Image credit: Miriam Kramer/SPACE.com)

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]

Visit SPACE.com for the latest MAVEN news, photos and videos. You can also follow MAVEN coverage through the Mission Status Center at SPACE.com's partner, Spaceflight Now.

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Miriam Kramer
Miriam Kramer joined Space.com as a staff writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also serves as Space.com's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight.  Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person. You can follow Miriam on Twitter and Google+.