NASA has exactly 20 days when conditions will be right to launch the MAVEN spacecraft, which will spend 10 months journeying to Mars. Those 20 days begin November 18. So when the government shutdown went into effect a month ahead of the planned launch, MAVEN officials couldn’t help but sweat a little.
Those officials announced today in a televised press briefing that the mission will go ahead as planned, with no delay as a result of the shutdown. MAVEN will explore Mars’ atmosphere to determine how it has changed over time, which could expand knowledge of the history of life and water on the planet.