Friday, March 10, 2006

MRO closing in on MARS

Today is the day we all have been waiting for. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter or MRO will insert itself into MARS orbit. NASA says they have a history of 65 per cent chance of obtaining orbit while they have had a 80 per cent rate of landing on MARS. Good luck!

If all goes well here is the sequence of events to obtain orbit:

MRO will approach the southern pole of Mars and then fire its thrusters at 1:25 Pacific Standard Time Friday, March 10. After 21 minutes, MRO will go behind the planet and mission scientists will lose contact with the spacecraft for 30 minutes. Six minutes after this loss of contact, the rockets should stop firing automatically, having decreased the speed of the spacecraft by 18 percent.

The spacecraft should swing back around Mars and re-establish Earth contact at 2:16 pm PST. Mission scientists will need an additional 30 minutes to determine whether the spacecraft has been captured by Mars gravity.

UPDATE: As of 2:16 PM PST MRO has achieved its burn and came out of occultation from Mars!

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