HUNTSVILLE, AL (WZDX) - A Mars spacecraft launched Monday afternoon on a mission to learn more about the Red Planet's atmosphere.
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center showed the launch live on a big screen. Several people, including dozens of Space Camp kids, got a front row seat to watch the Mars spacecraft launch from Cape Canaveral, FL.
The spacecraft is called the "Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution" or MAVEN for short. The vehicle will examine the upper atmosphere of Mars to find out what led to the loss of much of the planet's atmosphere.
Space campers from West Virginia were thrilled to see the launch.
"I was really excited because this is the first probe to go to space and Mars to learn about the atmosphere changes, so I am really excited to see that go up," said camp participant Brooke Burns.
"I think its very important for us to understand not only what's on our planet but other planets around us," said camp participant Evan Ballard.
NASA officials say the data could tell scientists the history of climate change on the Red Planet.
"We do know that Mars had water many, many, many, years ago, but we really don't know what happened. This really is a mission that will give us a lot of information about that. This information is what we can use for future missions," said Shannon Ridinger with NASA Public Affairs.
The Atlas rocket that launched Maven was built by local workers in Morgan County at United Launch Alliance in Decatur.