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The US space agency’s latest mission to Mars has blasted off, day one of a 10-month flight. fThe unmanned Atlas 5 rocket carries a probe which will study how the planet most like the Earth lost its water.Scientists hope MAVEN or the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission will provide them with some key data.Bruce Jakosky “MAVEN” principal investigator. from LASP University of Colorado explains:“As we’re starting to discover more and more planets outside our solar system and see earth-like planets and ask whether there could be life on those, we want to understand what makes a planet hospitable and what makes a planet go from being habitable to not being habitable, so I see this as a much broader mission than just exploring the Mars upper atmosphere today and learning about the history of the climate.”Scientists have no doubts that oceans once flowed on the surface of Mars, but whathappened to them?The prime suspect is the sun, which has been peeling away at the planet’s atmosphere, molecule by molecule.Upon arrival “MAVEN” will put itself into orbit and begin scrutinising the gases that remain in Martian skies.Learning what happened to the planet’s once thick protective atmosphere which allowed water to exist should provide scientists with the answer to one of space’s mysteries.