Mars or Bust - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Sunday, August 14 2005 @ 12:30 pm EDT
Contributed by: bobmoody
|An Atlas V rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Station at approximately 7:43 a.m. on August 12, 2005. Its payload is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and by November 2006, it will begin the most highly-detailed, in-depth study of Mars yet conceived.|
It needed a heavy-lift rocket to get off the Earth and send it some 70 million miles towards the planet Mars. As the hours passed on launch day, big grins pervaded the control room as item after item on the checklist were crossed-off satisfactorily. So far, so good. MRO is now in the "cruise" phase of its mission.
It's dimensions are impressive standing 21 feet tall with a 10 foot-diameter communications antenna.
|Aerobraking will take MRO skimming just above the thickest part of Mars' atmosphere numerous times, each pass slowly refining the shape and altitude of its orbit until it becomes nearly circularized by September 2006.|
This mission to Mars will seek to establish the following goals. 1) Characterize the present climate of Mars. How exactly does the climate change from season-to-season and from year-to-year. 2) Characterize Mars atmosphere and monitor its weather. 3) Investigate complex terrain on Mars and identify water-related landforms. 4) Search for sites showing stratigraphic or compositional evidence of water or hydrothermal activity. 5) Probe beneath the surface for evidence of subsurface layering, water and ice, and profile the internal structure of the polar ice caps. 6) Identify and characterize sites with the highest potential for future landings on the surface to include sites from where sample return missions might land. 7) Relay scientific information to Earth from current and future Mars surface missions.
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|Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter cruising above the Martian polar ice cap.|
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will pioneer new technologies, utilize old technologies to their utmost efficiency, and provide a new generation of communications technology to assist future Mars missions in relaying data to and from Earth. It's just one of several current and upcoming missions that we will see over the next decade designed to assist mankind in our future plans to send a manned Mars mission to our most intriguing neighbor in the solar system.
Detail information provided by "NASA Facts"
Learn more at the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter website at: http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/
Links to more Mars missions: