Friday, March 10, 2006

Another Mars probe arrives

Another Mars probe achieved orbit around the Red Planet on Friday.
Scientists cheered after the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter emerged from the planet's shadow and signaled to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that the maneuver was a success.

The two-ton spacecraft is the most sophisticated ever to arrive at Mars and is expected to gather more data on the Red Planet than all previous Martian missions combined.

It will explore Mars in low orbit for two years and is expected to churn out the most detailed information ever about the planet. In the fall, the orbiter will begin exploring the Martian atmosphere, scan the surface for evidence of ancient water and scout for future landing sites to send robotic and possibly human explorers.

What I'm most excited about is the ground-penetrating radar that can look for underground water and ice.

And coming up:
It is expected to serve as a communication relay for the Phoenix Mars Scout, which will explore the icy north pole in 2008 and the Mars Science Laboratory, an advanced rover scheduled to launch in 2009.

Let's get it on.

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