Skip to Main Content
Launch opportunities to explore Mars repeat every 26 months. In the 2013 opportunity, NASA studied launching a high performance science orbiter with extended telecom capabilities. This Mars Science Orbiter (MSO) would perform its science investigations and telecom infrastructure tasks over a period of 10 years in two consecutive orbits around Mars: one with science emphasis, the other emphasizing telecommunications services. While the individual science investigations of MSO would be decided competitively by an Announcement of Opportunity, the NASA science community has identified Atmospheric Science as the primary science thrust for the mission objectives. A high-resolution camera supporting the Mars infrastructure for landing site selection would complement the atmospheric science goals. The Atmospheric Science plan for MSO is centered on the two major science goals of atmospheric signatures and atmospheric state. Global maps of atmospheric constituents over time would provide the data necessary to characterize trace gas profiles, their sources and the dynamics of their transport to detect possible signatures of habitable zones and life. In addition, climatological monitoring and observing atmospheric processes would build on current climate/weather data sets, as well as contribute new data for transport and atmospheric dynamics models.