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The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission: From Launch to the Primary Science Orbit

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5 Author(s)
Johnston, D. ; California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena ; Graf, J.E. ; Zurek, R.W. ; Eisen, H.J.
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The Mars reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, USA, aboard an Atlas V-401 launch vehicle on August 12, 2005. The MRO spacecraft carries a very sophisticated scientific payload. Its primary science mission is to to provide global, regional survey, and targeted observations from a low-altitude orbit for one Martian year (687 Earth days). After a seven-month interplanetary transit, the spacecraft fired its six main engines and established a highly elliptical capture orbit at Mars. During the post Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) early check-out period, four instruments acquired engineering-quality data. This was followed by five months of aerobraking operations. After aerobraking was terminated, a series of propulsive maneuvers were used to establish the desired low-altitude science orbit. As the spacecraft is readied for its primary science mission, spacecraft and instrument checkout and deployment activities have continued. After the science phase is completed, the orbiter will provide telecommunications support for future Mars missions. This paper provides a status of the actual mission to date (through October 2006) and briefly describes the planned operations for the upcoming science mission.

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2007 IEEE

Date of Conference:

3-10 March 2007

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