Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Status

Sep 15, 2005
Artist's concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter en route to Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Three cameras on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter worked as expected in a test pointing them at the moon and stars on Sept. 8.

Image: Artist's concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter en route to Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL

"We feel great about how the camera performed and can hardly wait to see what it will show us at Mars," said Dr. Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment aboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The test also checked operation of the spacecraft's Context Camera and Optical Navigation Camera, plus the spacecraft's high-gain antenna and systems for handling and distributing data from the instruments.

"The instruments and the ground data system passed this test with flying colors," said Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project Manager Jim Graf of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We received 75 gigabits of data in less than 24 hours, which is a new one-day record for any interplanetary mission."

The spacecraft was about 10 million kilometers (6 million miles) from the moon when it turned to slew the cameras' fields of view across that test target. At that distance, the moon would appear as a single star-like dot to the unaided eye. In the test images by the high-resolution camera, it is about 340 pixels in diameter and appears as a crescent about 60 pixels wide. The tests also included imaging of the star cluster Omega Centauri for data to use in calibrating the camera.

During its primary science mission at Mars, the spacecraft will orbit within about 300 kilometers (186 miles) of that planet's surface. From that distance, the high-resolution camera will discern objects as small as one meter or yard across.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched on Aug. 12, will reach Mars and enter orbit on about March 10, 2006. After gradually adjusting the shape of its orbit for half a year, it will begin its primary science phase in November 2006. The mission will examine Mars in unprecedented detail from low orbit, returning several times more data than all previous Mars missions combined. Scientists will use its instruments to gain a better understanding of the history and current distribution of Mars' water. By inspecting possible landing sites and by providing a high-data-rate relay, it will also support future missions that land on Mars.

More information about the mission, including new test images of the moon by the high-resolution camera, is available online at www.nasa.gov/mro

Source: NASA

Explore further: NASA investigating short circuit on Mars rover Curiosity

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New detection technologies for bacterial pathogens

Feb 19, 2015

In FP7 jargon, RAPTADIAG is categorised as a 'small or medium-scale focused research project'. However, the past two years have seen the consortium turn a novel diagnostic test for bacterial meningitis into ...

Life on Europa? Scientists ponder the possibilities

Feb 19, 2015

When Galileo viewed Jupiter through his telescope in 1610, he saw four dim objects near it that he assumed were stars. Repeated observations revealed that these "stars" orbited Jupiter like our own moon circles ...

Helicopter could be 'scout' for Mars rovers

Jan 26, 2015

Getting around on Mars is tricky business. Each NASA rover has delivered a wealth of information about the history and composition of the Red Planet, but a rover's vision is limited by the view of onboard ...

Bring on driverless cars

Jan 21, 2015

Imagine no more gridlock, road rage and drunk driving—and 90 percent fewer car accidents. You could well be able to sit back and enjoy the ride sooner than you think, according to the engineers who are ...

Recommended for you

Image: Training for Sentinel-2A launch

1 hour ago

On 25 February, the Sentinel-2A Mission Control Team at ESOC, ESA's mission operations centre, Darmstadt, Germany, commenced simulation training for the critical launch and early orbit phase.

Far from home: Wayward cluster is both tiny and distant

17 hours ago

Like the lost little puppy that wanders too far from home, astronomers have found an unusually small and distant group of stars that seems oddly out of place. The cluster, made of only a handful of stars, ...

Why don't we search for different life?

22 hours ago

If we really want to find life on other worlds, why do we keep looking for life based on carbon and water? Why don't we look for the stuff that's really different?

OSIRIS catches glimpse of Rosetta's shadow

22 hours ago

Several days after Rosetta's close flyby of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 14 February 2015, images taken on this day by OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system on board, have now been downlinked to Earth. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.