The furlough has largely put on hold all but those programmes deemed essential.
Staff supporting the
Employees responsible for in-flight spacecraft, including interplanetary probes Â€“ in recognition of the uniqueness of their situation Â€“ are also exempt from the shutdown. This category includes staff working on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) programme, including its planned November launch.
While perhaps not the most crucial of programmes,
Should the launch date be missed, the spacecraft would have to be stored until 2016 at the earliest.
Although Mars once had an Earth-like atmosphere it dissipated for unknown reasons; researchers hope studying the current atmosphere will shed light on how the planet evolved.
Meanwhile, the rest of
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