NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter achieved it’s 50000th Orbit of Mars this week

April 2, 2017 |
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Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The many data-productive booster nonetheless during Mars swept past a 50,000th circuit this week, stability to accumulate a many observant tellurian coverage ever achieved by a camera during a Red Planet.

In addition, a booster — NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) — recently aided preparations for NASA’s subsequent goal to Mars, a InSight lander. Insight will launch subsequent year on a goal to investigate a planet’s low interior. Meanwhile, a orbiter continues different scholarship observations of Mars and communications-relay use for dual active Mars rovers, Curiosity and Opportunity.

In early 2017, after some-more than a decade of watching Mars, a Context Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) surpassed 99 percent coverage of a whole planet. This mosaic shows that tellurian coverage. (NASA)

In early 2017, after some-more than a decade of watching Mars, a Context Camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) surpassed 99 percent coverage of a whole planet. This mosaic shows that tellurian coverage. (NASA)

MRO’s Context Camera (CTX) exploits a honeyed mark in a change between fortitude and picture record size. With a fortitude of about 20 feet (6 meters) per pixel in images of a Martian surface, it has supposing a library of images now covering 99.1 percent of Mars.

That is approximately homogeneous to a land area of Earth. No other camera ever sent to Mars has photographed so most of a world in such high resolution.

The Context Camera has taken about 90,000 images given a booster began examining Mars from circuit in late 2006. Each one reveals shapes of facilities down to sizes smaller than a tennis court, in a swath of belligerent about 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) wide.

“Reaching 99.1-percent coverage has been wily since a series of factors, including continue conditions, coordination with other instruments, downlink limitations, and orbital constraints, tend to extent where we can picture and when,” pronounced Context Camera Team Leader Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego.

In further to watching scarcely a whole world during slightest once, a Context Camera has celebrated 60.4 percent of a world some-more than once. These observations assist scholarship directly and also plead a reserve of destiny alighting sites.

Malin said, “Single coverage provides a baseline we can use for comparison with destiny observations, as we demeanour for changes. Re-imaging areas serves dual functions: looking for changes and appropriation stereoscopic views from that we can make topographic maps.”

A thespian form of change a Context Camera has documented some-more than 200 times is a uninformed impact void appearing between a times of dual observations. These images enabled scientists to calculate a rate during that tiny asteroids, or pieces of comets, are colliding with Mars.

Some of a uninformed impacts exhibit white element interpreted as H2O ice. The latitudes and estimated inlet of a ice-exposing craters yield justification about a placement of buried ice nearby a surface. MRO’s Shallow Radar has found ice over underground, yet this really shoal ice would go undetected if not for a bearing by impacts.

One of MRO’s other cameras, a High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), can wizz in on a new impact craters found by a Context Camera. For some of these craters, HiRISE and MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars have reliable a participation of H2O ice.

However, even yet MRO has returned some-more than 300 terabits of scholarship data, a most aloft spatial fortitude of HiRISE has singular a coverage of Mars’ aspect to about 3 percent. A third MRO camera, a Mars Color Imager, observes roughly a whole world any day to lane continue change. Another instrument, a Mars Climate Sounder, annals straight profiles of a atmosphere’s temperatures and dangling particles.

The booster was launched Aug 12th, 2005. It entered an elongated circuit of Mars in Mar 2006, afterwards spent several months regulating attrition with Mars’ top atmosphere to correct a orbit. Since commencement a scholarship operations in Nov 2006, MRO has been drifting near-polar orbits durability about dual hours, during altitudes from 155 to 196 miles (250 to 316 kilometers). The goal finished a 50,000th circuit on Monday, Mar 27th.

“After 11 and a half years in flight, a booster is healthy and stays entirely functional,” pronounced MRO Project Manager Dan Johnston during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “It’s a miraculous car that we design will offer a Mars Exploration Program and Mars scholarship for many some-more years to come.”

On Mar 22nd, a goal done a latest composition to a orbit, with a 45.1-second bake of 6 intermediate-size rocket engines, any of that provides 5 pounds (22 newtons) of thrust. This scheme revised a circuit orientation, so that a booster can be during a right place during a right time, on Nov. 26, 2018, to accept vicious radio transmissions from NASA’s InSight Mars lander as it descends to a surface.

MRO has already supposing some-more than 60 images from HiRISE for allege research of a alighting segment for InSight. In a extended plain of a Elysium Planitia segment of equatorial Mars, InSight will use a seismometer and feverishness inspect to inspect a interior of Mars to improved know a arrangement routine of hilly planets like Earth. The final MRO picture for criticism of this alighting area will be taken Thursday, Mar 30th.

For additional information about Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit:

For additional information about InSight, visit:




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