CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- NASA says its next spacecraft going to Mars is at Kennedy Space Center in Florida undergoing final preparations for its November launch.
Prior to being moved to its launch pad for a 20-day launch period beginning Nov. 18, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft is undergoing detailed testing and fueling, the space agency reported Thursday.
MAVEN is dedicated to surveying the upper atmosphere of Mars, and scientists said they hope to obtain unprecedented data to help them understand how the loss of atmospheric gas to space may have played a part in changing the Red Planet's climate.
The spacecraft was transported to Florida from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo.
"We're excited and proud to ship the spacecraft right on schedule," David Mitchell, NASA's MAVEN project manager said. "But more critical milestones lie ahead before we accomplish our mission of collecting science data from Mars.
Further checks prior to launch will include software tests, spin balance tests, and test deployments of the spacecraft's solar panels and booms, NASA said.
MAVEN's one-year mission will begin when it enters Mars orbit in September 2014.