The engine ignites under the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, lifting NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, spacecraft off Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Launch was on schedule at 1:28 p.m. EST Nov. 18 at the opening of a two-hour launch window. After a 10-month journey to the Red Planet, MAVEN will study its upper atmosphere in unprecedented detail from orbit above the planet. Built by Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colo., MAVEN will arrive at Mars in September 2014 and will be inserted into an elliptical orbit with a high point of 3,900 miles, swooping down to as close as 93 miles above the planet's surface. For more information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/maven/main/index.html. Photo credit: NASA/Bill White