NASA's Next Mars Probe Set to Launch
NASA's next mission to Mars set to explore the Red Planet's atmosphere is getting ready to launch on Monday (Nov. 18).
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft (called MAVENfor short) is expected to investigate how the ancient Red Planet shifted from being a warm, wet world to the cold desert it is today.
"A maven is a trusted expert based on an accumulation of knowledge who seeks to pass that knowledge onto others," John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the science mission directorate at NASA, said during a news conference on Oct. 28. "MAVEN, like its etymological origin, will indeed establish the knowledge on which scientists can build a story of the Mars atmosphere and help future human explorers who journey to Mars and the Mars surface."
Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) begins its tour of the northern hemisphere starting in March. It will be visible low in the western horizon for a short duration after sunset (About 6pm-7pm for March). As the year continues on it will make it's way towards the north star (Polaris) by May which will afford a view all night long. The comet will be closest to the Sun on March 10th and therefore at it's brightest. Even without a telescope, Comet PanSTARRS should be visible to the naked eye, and easily located in binoculars (if you know where to look). Check Sky and Telescopes article here for some helpful images for locating this comet, as well as periodically updated information.