NASA Mars Exploration Mission Still Go for Launch Despite Shutdown

NASA has granted an emergency exemption for a University of Colorado program to examine Mars' atmosphere to avoid delaying the project until 2016, according to a report by the Daily Camera.

The $485 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft will launch between Nov. 18 and Dec. 7 because the Earth and Mars are in alignment during that timeframe, Charlie Brennan writes.

Brennan reports the mission could have been affected by the government shutdown.

"The rovers are presently supported by Mars Odyssey, launched in 2001, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2005. Launching MAVEN in 2013 protects the existing assets that are at Mars today," MAVEN lead scientist Bruce Jakosky wrote in an email obtained by the Daily Camera.

NASA determined that MAVEN is needed to relay communications between the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers that are currently on Mars, Brennan reports.

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