New Mars orbiter to launch next month

July 22, 2005

NASA says the Mars orbiter set to launch next month will study the planet in unprecedented detail, providing more data than all previous missions combined.

The spacecraft will carry six instruments for analyzing the atmosphere, surface and subsurface of Mars, National Aeronautical and Space Administration officials said Thursday.

One of the science payload's three cameras will be the largest-diameter telescopic camera sent to another planet. The second camera will expand the present area of high-resolution coverage by a factor of 10; and a third camera will provide global maps of Martian weather, NASA said.

The other three instruments will be a spectrometer, a ground-penetrating radar unit, and a radiometer to monitor atmospheric dust, water vapor and temperature.

The launch window will open Aug. 10 and the orbiter is to reach Mars next March.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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