What’s Happening in NASA News?

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft launches aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, Cape Canaveral, Florida.If you haven’t figured out by now, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a bit of a space buff. I follow multiple astronauts on Twitter and Facebook, I get weekly emails updating me on the goings-on at NASA, and I attend space-related events. So what has been going on lately? Well, there was a rocket launch this past Monday! Don’t worry; NASA Kennedy puts up videos on YouTube where you can live or relive it.

This rocket was an Atlas V and launched the robotic explorer MAVEN up to study Mars’ atmosphere. MAVEN stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN. I know that it has at least one spectrometer and some other scientific instruments, but if I wanted to learn more about the launch and what MAVEN is going to do, I’d have to do some research.

Since it’s a current event, I’d start with the library’s LexisNexis database. I did a search for “maven” and decided to start with the newspapers. From an Associated Press article I found out that MAVEN has eight instruments on it to investigate the upper atmosphere and help us understand better how to land a ship with humans in it in the future. I also found more details about the mission in this article telling us MAVEN will start orbiting Mars on September 22, 2014 and they hope the explorer will get a glimpse of the Comet ISON as well.

If you’re really interested in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM), there is a way you can get involved! Specific to community college students, you can apply to be an aerospace scholar. There are just a few requirements, the main ones being that you have taken at least 9 hours (usually 3 classes) in the STEM fields and that you are currently enrolled at a community college. Maybe you got some of gen ed requirements out of the way already or took classes such as biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, math, technology, or programming.

If you have questions, come see me, Kelly Mueller, but hurry, since the application due date is Tuesday, November 26th! Click here to apply.

Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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