Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter enters Martian orbit

Friday, March 10, 2006

An artist's concept of MRO using SHARAD to "look" under the surface of Mars

After journeying seven months to reach its destination, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter entered the Martian orbit. The successful orbital maneuver garnered applause from NASA controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

On Friday, the orbiter made a 27-minute engine burn. The maneuver slowed the orbiter down twenty percent to 27,000 kilometers (11,000 miles) per hour and put the satellite into an elliptical orbit set to bring it within 400 kilometers (250 miles) of the Martian surface.

As of now, the European Space Agency's Mars Express along with NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey are orbiting the planet. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will make it the fourth satellite monitoring Mars.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched seven months ago on August 12, 2005. The orbiter was outfitted with the most powerful monitoring equipment ever sent to research the planet. The craft is equipped and designed to recover more data than all other previous missions combined.