Washington: The US space agency NASA Saturday rolled out to the launching pad at Cap Canaveral, Florida, the Atlas 5 rocket, which will blast off Monday for Mars carrying the MAVEN spacecraft, which will study the atmosphere of that planet.

The rocket, 57.3 metres long, is scheduled to take off from Florida Monday at 1:28 p.m.

Meteorologists point to a 60 percent probability of favourable weather conditions for the rocket launch on that day and hour.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will travel 10 months through space to an orbit around the red planet, and will then collect data to determine how and why it became the cold desert it is today.

Research up to now has shown that Mars was once a planet with water but the influence of the sun and other factors caused it to lose its atmosphere.