NASA Mars Probe MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has completed its 50,000th orbit around the Red Planet, studying its atmosphere and surface. The 50,000 circle Mars completed on Monday, March 27 after 11 years since the spaceship arrived at Mars. Space agency officials argue that this probe is still going strong. Dan Johnston, the MRO project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, stated that MRO is an amazing probe which hopefully will be able to help them with the Mars Exploration Program and Mars science.
The Mars probe managed to complete its 50,000 orbit around Mars
The spaceship was launched in August 2005, and it was valued at $720 million. The spacecraft reached the orbit of Mars in March 2006. The craft took some time to optimize its orbit and then it started its science missions, starting collecting data in November 2006. The work developed by MRO varied. It searched for signs of life, trying to determine whether water existed there in the past. The craft also tried to establish which the best locations for future crewed missions were.
It has also analyzed the geology and climate of Mars, being used as a data-relay connection for other probes like Curiosity and Opportunity. Until this moment, the Mars probe has accumulated 300 terabits of scientific data and sent it back to Earth. The craft is equipped with six instruments, and three of them are cameras. The Context Camera (CTX) managed to capture about 90,000 pictures, covering approximately 99.1 of the surface of the Red Planet.
Up to this point, it collected 300 terabits of information about Mars
Michael Malin, the team leader of Context Camera at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, argued that it was hard for the Mars probe to reach and photograph 99.1 of the entire surface since weather conditions, orbitally constrains, downlink restrictions and coordination with other tools might have impaired its activities. CTX has a 20-feet-per-pixel resolution. Nevertheless, another camera of the probes, the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) can capture pictures with a resolution of 4 to 8 feet.
This higher resolution triggers more limited coverage. NASA officials claimed that this camera had photographed only 3% of the entire surface of the planet. Since it first reached Mars, the spaceship flew in a two-hour-long orbit. The ship is bound to continue its flight.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia