NASA’s next Mars explorer lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Monday afternoon.

MAVEN, which stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, should arrive at the Red Planet in late September 2014. Its goal is to measure the composition of Mars’ upper atmosphere, giving scientists clues about how the planet lost its atmosphere and surface water over time.

Some pictures from the launch are below.

The MAVEN spacecraft sits atop an Atlas V rocket. At 37.5-feet-long and weighing 5,400-pounds when fully-fuelled, MAVEN is about the size of a family sport utility vehicle.

Before launch, liquid oxygen begins flowing into the Atlas first stage booster.

The night before launch, a full moon rises behind the Atlas V rocket with the MAVEN spacecraft onboard.

On Sunday, Nov. 17, MAVEN rolls to the pad at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida after a 20-minute journey from the Vertical Integration Facility.

Live streaming video by Ustream

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