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    Costa Rican Woman Leading MAVEN Mars Mission

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    The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Sandra Cauffman, a Costa Rican, is a major component in the development of the MAVEN Mars mission which will be launched in 2014 to Mars to study volatile components in the atmosphere.

    “It’s great to say that I’m working on a Mars mission. Going to Mars to study how the Martian atmosphere evolved can help understand whether there was ever life on Mars and if life as we know it could be sustained,” said Cauffman in an interview on the NASA site.

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    Cauffman is 51 years old and married to American Stephen Cauffman. She is a native of San Jose, but has been living in the U.S. for more than 20 years.

    She attended the University of Costa Rica (UCR), where she began studying Industrial Engineering.

    After her arrival in the U.S., she continued her studies at George Mason University, where she finished her studies in Electrical Engineering. In her early years, she worked for a company that was a NASA contractor, who hired her company in February 1991.

    The mission that came out this Monday is the first specialized in the study of the atmosphere of the “Red Planet”. The journey will take 10 months and reach that planet in September 2014.

    “It will take five weeks for the spacecraft to reach its final orbit. It will test the atmosphere using instruments while mapping test sequences. After this launch, MAVEN mission will have one year to conduct its research,” described the NASA website.

    Cauffman said that the project has nearly 10 years of development, with the key years between 2005 and 2008, in which the preliminary design of the probe was finalized.

    The mission has a cost of about $671 million, a figure that is lower compared to similar events. This is because technological advances used for MAVEN have already been tested in other opportunities.

    MAVEN is a continuation of NASA to explore the conditions of Mars, a planet that has always attracted much interest from the aerospace industry. The new mission will be able to communicate with robots Opportunity and Curiosity (launched in 2001 and 2005).

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