10 Years in Martian Orbit for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Yesterday marked a decade since Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) went into orbit around the Red Planet. A few months later science observations commenced, and since then the mission has been studying the Martian surface and atmosphere. We use MRO data on both Planet Four (HiRISE [HIgh Resolution Imaging Science Experiment] images) and Planet Four: Terrains (Context Camera [CTX] images). Thanks to the contributions of those at NASA and the instrument teams (including engineers, scientists, software programmers, and other operations support team members) who make these observations happen and keep the spacecraft and its suite of instruments happy and healthy.
With 10 Earth years (or ~5 Mars years) of observations, we can look for long term changes in the geyser formation process, and this summer we’ll be pointing HiRISE to new regions of the South Pole thanks to the contributions from Planet Four: Terrains volunteers for monitoring for several more Mars years.
Below is a highlight reel compiled by NASA of MRO’s greatest science hits and images over the last decade.
There have been so many iconic moments from the MRO’s mission, but I think two moments are HIRISE capturing the descent stage of the the Curiosity rover with the parachute and the parachute of the Phoenix lander several years before.