by KYLE GIBSON
The U.S government shutdown happened on Oct. 1, 2013 and is now affecting NASA’s latest mission to Mars. The mission scheduled for next month is now very likely to be delayed and if that happens, NASA will have to wait for more than two years until it can launch. Bruce Jakosky, head of the mission, stated, “We are just inside of seven weeks to launch and we are shutdown. The shutdown has already had an effect on preparations for the Mars mission, with a launch dress rehearsal and mission readiness review canceled this week.” The project supposed to launch is called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN). It was scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center. Hoping their project would be exempt from the shutdown, the head of the project called NASA’s Goddard Space Center in Maryland in hopes they would be saved, but they were turned down.
Jakosky stated what the launch’s objective was: “The MAVEN mission is studying the sun’s impact on the Mars upper atmosphere. Launching in this window places them at a solar maximum, for the greatest impacts of the sun’s effect on Mars’ upper atmosphere. The next window, if they are forced to launch, would put the spacecraft’s arrival at solar minimum.” Delaying the launch for 26 months would add millions of dollars to the already made $670 million dollar price tag. If the MAVEN project does launch in 2016, the alignment of the Earth and Mars would require that MAVEN use even more fuel than it was intended to use. This would cut into it’s time for the mission and the conditions would be poor for research. Overall the government shutdown has been hitting NASA’s latest project very badly and has left it inert and paused for the time being.