© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Delay, Orbiter Lifts Off to Scout Mars

A Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket launches off pad 41 with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Aug. 12.
A Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket launches off pad 41 with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Aug. 12.

NASA's latest voyage to the planet Mars is underway. An Atlas V rocket carrying the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter blasted off on time, following two days of scrubs due to technical glitches. The orbiter will take about seven months to get to Mars, and will circle the planet for four years.

After settling into orbit, it will collect more data than all the previous Mars missions combined. NASA hopes the information will speed human exploration of the planet in the future.

On Thursday, NASA scrubbed the planned launch due to a problem with a fuel sensor.

The orbiter will look for new evidence that Mars once had liquid water -- a prerequisite for life. A rover on the planet's surface already has found what may be a former lake bed. Scans by another orbiter have revealed ice near the planet's surface.

The new orbiter will try to determine whether that ice extends hundreds or even thousands of feet down. It will also look for mineral deposits that could reveal whether the water on Mars was ever liquid.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tags
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.