17–19 September 2018
Hyatt Regency Orlando, Orlando, Florida

NASA Plans To Continue Using Mars Orbiter For Another Decade

10 April 2018
Spaceflight Now reports that NASA plans for its “workhorse” Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to continue “its imaging and radio relay functions for nearly 10 more years, officials said last week.” Due to the fact that NASA’s focus has “shifted to collecting and bringing rock samples back to Earth,” leaving “little money for other Mars missions,” no additional Mars orbiters with MRO’s “unique capabilities” are planned. The MRO serves as a “high-resolution mapping and telecom relay between Earth and rovers on the Martian surface, from a low orbit that averages less than 200 miles (300 kilometers) above the planet.” According to MRO Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Tamppari, “We’re now regarded as a milestone mission for the Mars program,” and have been “requested to be alive through 2027, so that we can support the Mars program, and of course, for science.” To do so, NASA will “have to manage our spacecraft as it’s aging,” including monitoring the spacecraft’s batteries and gyroscopes. NASA may adjust MRO’s orbit in order to “reduce the time the orbiter spends in darkness on each orbit,” and this could occur by 2022 “once MRO completes its communications relay support for landers and rovers due to arrive in 2018 and 2021.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Spaceflight Now)

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