Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mars Orbiter Completes Prime Mission

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Seasonal Freezing and Thawing on Mars - 11/25/08

On Mars, the stuff we know as "dry ice," or frozen carbon dioxide, is
a powerful agent for change. In winter, it forms a polar ice cap. In
spring, it becomes an expanding gas that carves channels in the
surface and sends loose debris into landslides.

Spacecraft around Mars, and spacecraft now around our Moon.

One waits years for these events to take place and then time marches
on and they do their missions and our life goes on down here on mother

I trust you have done a better job of looking up than I.

Local events seem to creep up and my multitasking not the best.
Have been reading about our brain and looking at software to emulate.
Too many books, not enough time, but most interesting.
Just keeps my head down and not looking up enough.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
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Mars Orbiter Completes Prime Mission

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dec. 11, 2008

RELEASE : 08-324

Mars Orbiter Completes Prime Mission

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has completed
its primary, two-year science phase. The spacecraft has found signs of
a complex Martian history of climate change that produced a diversity
of past watery environments.

The orbiter has returned 73 terabits of science data, more than all
earlier Mars missions combined. The spacecraft will build on this
record as it continues to examine Mars in unprecedented detail during
its next two-year phase of science operations.

Among the major findings during the primary science phase is the
revelation that the action of water on and near the surface of Mars
occurred for hundreds of millions of years. This activity was at least
regional and possibly global in extent, though possibly intermittent.
The spacecraft also observed that signatures of a variety of watery
environments, some acidic, some alkaline, increase the possibility
that there are places on Mars that could reveal evidence of past life,
if it ever existed.

Since moving into position 186 miles above Mars' surface in October
2006, the orbiter also has conducted 10,000 targeted observation
sequences of high-priority areas. It has imaged nearly 40 percent of
the planet at a resolution that can reveal house-sized objects in
detail, 1 percent in enough detail to see desk-sized features. This
survey has covered almost 60 percent of Mars in mineral mapping bands
at stadium-size resolution. The orbiter also assembled nearly 700
daily global weather maps, dozens of atmospheric temperature profiles,
and hundreds of radar profiles of the subsurface and the interior of
the polar caps.

"These observations are now at the level of detail necessary to test
hypotheses about when and where water has changed Mars and where
future missions will be most productive as they search for habitable
regions on Mars," said Richard Zurek, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,

Mars Orbiter Completes Prime Mission
12.11.08 --

Among other findings, the spacecraft has found signs of a complex
Martian history of climate change that produced a diversity of past
watery environments.
Read more

Mission Overview

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched August 12, 2005, is on a
search for evidence that water persisted on the surface of Mars for a
long period of time. While other Mars missions have shown that water
flowed across the surface in Mars' history, it remains a mystery
whether water was ever around long enough to provide a habitat for

Powerful Communications and Navigation Link

The orbiter's telecommunications systems will also establish a crucial
service for future spacecraft, becoming the first link in a
communications bridge back to Earth, an "interplanetary Internet" that
can be used by numerous international spacecraft in coming years.
Testing the use of a radio frequency called Ka-band, Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter may demonstrate the potential for greater
performance in communications using significantly less power.

The orbiter also carries an experimental navigation camera. If it
performs well, similar cameras placed on orbiters of the future would
be able to serve as high-precision interplanetary "eyes" to guide
incoming landers to precise landings on Mars, opening up exciting -
but otherwise dangerous - areas of the planet to exploration.

The orbiter's primary mission ends about five-and-a-half years after
launch, on December 31, 2010.

More information about Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is available online




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