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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is Preparing for a New Arrival

posted: 07/29/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
MRO concept
NASA/JPL

Just over a year from now, a new Mars lander named InSight will complete its journey to Mars, and the Red Planet's current residents are already preparing for its arrival.

Before InSight arrives, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had to adjust its orbit and position itself to receive radio transmissions from the lander. Yesterday, the spacecraft underwent a planned minute-long firing of six thrusters that "will put us in the right place at the right time" during InSight landing, explains Project Manager Dan Johnston.

After InSight lands, MRO will undergo a further series of longer maneuvers in October 2016 and April 2017 to return the spacecraft to its former orbit, which it has used for nearly a decade.

MRO is an integral part of NASA's mission to Mars; the agency explains that the veteran spacecraft has returned "several times more data about the Red Planet than all other deep-space missions combined". The orbiter provides communication relay support for rovers on Mars' surface and collects data regarding possible landing sites for future Mars missions.

Click here for more information from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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