Federal government shutdown or not, NASA has decided that the Mars probe mission will move forward with a November 18 launch. The MAVEN orbiter (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) is a $650million dollar project that was thought to be delayed because of the shutdown, but principal investigator Bruce Jakosky reported that "NASA has analyzed the MAVEN mission relative to the Anti-Deficiency Act and determined that it meets the requirements allowing an emergency exception." Without the exception, the launch would have had to be postponed until the next Mars-Earth alignment in 2016. This launch will put us one step closer to learning whether or not Mars is capable of sustaining life.
Of course, Mars missions are not the only things that should receive "emergency exceptions," but we will take the small victories as they come.