NASA Mars Mission Will Go on Despite Shutdown

October 7, 2013 | Andy Cush

Last week we brought you the sad news that despite the millions and millions of miles between it and the Capitol Building, the Mars Curiosity rover couldn’t be saved from the federal shutdown, and is currently operating on standby. Fortunately, there’s hope for our Mars efforts yet: the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe (MAVEN), which could potentially have been delayed, will launch on schedule next month, whether or not the federal government is back online by then.

MAVEN is “is tasked with investigating how the carbon-dioxide-heavy atmosphere of Mars has changed over time, and what those changes say about the planet’s ability to support life,” according to the Verge, and the mission will be allowed to go on largely because of timing: it depends on a particular alignment of Earth and Mars, one that wouldn’t happen again until 2016 if NASA misses its date.