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10-May-2006 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Continues Aerobraking
This is a still image from an animation of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter conducting aerobraking around Mars.  The background is the black of space with small white stars.  The top of the image shows the bottom half of a dusty orange Mars, part of it lit by sun and part in darkness.  Below the planet is the orbiter surrounded by a ghostly glow that indicates its resistance against the martian atmosphere.
NASA's latest orbiter to visit the Red Planet is well into its main phase of aerobraking. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has cut about 10 hours off of its initial orbit by strategically dipping in and out of Mars' thin atmosphere.

Now at a 25 hour-orbit, the spacecraft is circling the planet roughly once per martian sol (day), which is 24 hours, 39 minutes.

The periapsis altitude (the closest the spacecraft comes to the planet) of its orbit is at 106 kilometers (66 miles). Periapsis is near 75 degrees south latitude in the South Pole region of Mars.

"The spacecraft will perform a small maneuver tonight (May 10, 2006) that will lower periapsis altitude to 104 kilometers (65 miles)," said Deputy Mission Manager Dan Johnston. "This will allow us to maintain our desired aerobraking orbit period reduction rate. The spacecraft continues to perform very well as we skim through the martian atmosphere."
06-Apr-2006 First Color HiRISE Image of Mars
This is the first color image of Mars from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
This is the first color image of Mars from the HiRISE. This is not natural color as seen by human eyes, but infrared color. This image also has been processed to enhance subtle color variations.
29-Mar-2006 Next Phase: Aerobraking
This artists concept shows MRO's path in smaller and smaller yellow ovals around Mars.
After a nearly flawless entry into martian orbit, what is next for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter? Six months of precise aerobraking will position the spacecraft for optimal science return.

Aerobraking is a process in which engineers utilize the martian atmosphere to slow their craft and ease it into a circular orbit. Initially, the spacecraft entered into a 35-hour orbit that, if drawn, would appear oval shaped. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will dip into Mars' atmosphere during its orbital passes and the craft's large solar panels and high-gain antenna will create resistance, slowing the vehicle and moving it into a more circular orbit. At aerobraking's end, the spacecraft's orbit will be approximately two hours.

Coming Soon: Aerobraking Video and Feature Story
24-Mar-2006 HiRISE Team Anxiously Awaits Images
In this photo, several HiRISE team members hover around a computer screen looking at the first image from HiRISE.
Sleep is secondary to Dr. Alfred McEwen and his HiRISE team. They are eager to see what their instrument is seeing from orbit around Mars. Scientists and engineers at the University of Arizona are gearing up to see the first test images of Mars taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.
24-Mar-2006 First Mars Image from Newly Arrived Camera
This image is a mosaic combining 10 side-by-side exposures taken through red filters, presented at greatly reduced scale. This view shows the ground covered in the first image of Mars taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (HiRISE) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Streams of data poured in overnight as excited engineers and scientists waited to see what the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera was seeing from orbit around Mars. The results were worth waiting up for! Share in the excitement of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's first images from orbit.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was farther from Mars when the camera took these test images than it will be when the mission's main science phase begins next fall, so the resolution of features in the images will not match what is anticipated later. However, this week's testing is the only planned use of the camera until the science phase begins.
23-Mar-2006 Testing HiRISE
Photo of a model of the HiRISE instrument.
Scientists and engineers at the University of Arizona are gearing up to see the first test images of Mars taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.
10-Mar-2006 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Successfully Enters Orbit Around Mars!
In this image, a group of men and women are celebrating the successful orbit insertion of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on March 10, 2006.  Mission manager Jim Graf is featured.  He is a Caucasian man in his fifties with  brown hair and a salt and pepper goatee.  His arms are raised in celebration.  Behind him is the Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Dr. Charles Elachi.  He is a  man in his fifties with thinning brown and gray hair and glasses.  They are both wearing maroon-colored short-sleeved shirts with mission emblems on them.  Dr. Elachi has a brown leather jacket on also.  They are surrounded by other men and women clapping in mission control.
Cheers of joy filled the mission control area at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory today as its latest mission to Mars met a critical mission milestone: Mars orbit insertion. At 2:16 p.m. (PST), ground controllers were informed by the Deep Space Network that they had locked up on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's signal as the spacecraft reappeared above Mars. This communication was a tremendous relief to the mission team as they had to wait nearly half an hour for their spacecraft to emerge from behind the red planet and back into range so that radio signals could again be transmitted. A few minutes later, it was confirmed that the orbiter was captured into the intended initial orbit.
03-Feb-2006 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is on the Approach
In this image, a yellow dot in the middle represents the Sun.  A blue circle around the Sun represents the Earth in orbit around the Sun and a red line outside of that represents Mars orbiting.  A blue dot on the blue line represent liftoff of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter from Earth on August 12, 2005.  A green and yellow line represents the spacecraft's journey away from Earth and toward Mars.  Opportunities for trajectory correction maneuvers (TCMs) are marked along the green and yellow line.  Some major events in the mission are labeled: launch, cruise, approach and Mars orbit insertion.
This diagram illustrates the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's journey from launch to Mars. The inner circle (blue) represents Earth in orbit around the Sun (center). The green and yellow line represents the spacecraft on its way to Mars. The outer (red) circle represents Mars in orbit around the Sun. Four major stages of the mission are labeled: launch, cruise, approach and Mars orbit insertion. Also labeled are the opportunities for trajectory correction maneuvers, or chances to tweak the orbiter's path. The third trajectory correction maneuver was deemed unnecessary due to the precision of the spacecraft's current path.
27-Dec-2005 Stellar Calibration, HiRISE! 
The HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped this image of part of Jewel Box, an open star cluster.  Jewel Box was so named by Sir John Herschel because of the variety of star colors in the cluster, including the large red giant seen near the bottom of this image.
The HiRISE camera aboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught a glimpse inside "Jewel Box"!
22-Dec-2005 Phobos and Deimos, Prepare to Say 'Cheese!'
The insert in this black and white image is a drawing of a simulation of what the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's optical navigation camera will see when snapping pictures of the martian moons, Phobos and Deimos.  A square box roughly represents the outsides of the image.  The planet Mars is on the lower left side, half of it in shadow.  In the center of the image is the martian moon Deimos, represented by a tiny speck.  Surrounding Deimos are numbered plus signs that represent stars.  These contextual images will help navigators accurately predict the spacecraft's location before it enters the martian orbit.
The insert in this image is a simulation of what the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's optical navigation camera images of the martian moons Phobos and Deimos will look like. The images will not be up-close portraits of the moon like we have from the Viking missions. They will be contextual pictures that will aid navigators in getting the most specific location data, so they know exactly where the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft is before its orbit insertion.
19-Oct-2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is Already Breaking Records!
This image shows a crescent view of Earth's Moon in infrared wavelengths. It comes from a camera test by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on its way to Mars.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter set the record for interplanetary missions, sending back the most data in a single day!
27-Sep-2005 MRO Faces Huge Solar Flare
NOAA image of the sun from the NOAA Solar X-ray Imager aboard the NOAA GOES-12 satellite taken Sept. 7, 2005, at 1:46 p.m. EDT.
September 7, 2005 saw the fourth largest solar flare in the last 15 years!
12-Sep-2005 Smooth Sailing
In this image, the sun is in the center.  Two circles go around the sun, representing Earth's orbit and Mars' orbit.  MRO is shown transferring from Earth toward Mars.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began its cruise phase and successfully completed the first two vital tasks.
30-Aug-2005 MRO Streaks Across the Sky
In this image, against the black of the night sky, stars are punctuated by a tiny, bright streak.  The streak, appearing at the top of the image in the center, is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter aboard its Atlas V launch vehicle as it makes its way on its trajectory toward Mars.
Keen sky watchers in Japan caught a quick glimpse of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as it sped through the sky on its path to the red planet.
12-Aug-2005 Next Stop, Mars!
In this image, a group of people are standing on a strip of grass on the shore of the Banana River, across from the Launch 41 Complex where the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched.  In the middle of the image is the rocket itself lifting off the launch pad.  Yellow fire spits from the bottom of the rocket and clouds of smoke billow just to the right of the launch pad.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter lifted off this morning at 7:43 AM EDT from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The spacecraft is healthy and communicating with ground controllers and the team is overjoyed!
09-Aug-2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Launch Postponed
In this image, in the center, is the large white, protective fairing bearing both the red, white and blue NASA 'meatball' logo and the very colorful mission logo.  The fairing sits atop the large Atlas V rocket that will launch it out of Earth's atmosphere, toward Mars.  The inside of the vertical integration facility is very industrial looking with large steel beams, tubing and service stairways.  There is a tube attached to the fairing that provides air conditioning to the spacecraft.
Tomorrow morning's launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been postponed by at least one day. At present, liftoff is scheduled for no earlier than 7:50 a.m. on August 11.

More details
04-Aug-2005 Countdown Nears: Final Tests
In this image, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is hidden inside its white, protective fairing bearing the red, white and blue circular NASA 'meatball' logo and the colorful logo drawn by an artist to celebrate the mission.  The fairing sits atop the very tall Atlas V rocket, which is gold, white and copper in color.  The rocket is inside the vertical integration facility, which is a tall industrial structure – taller than the rocket and the orbiter payload.  Each stage of the rocket is supported by a servicing walkway that allows people to work on it.  On the top walkway, a person appears and is utterly dwarfed by the enormity of the rocket and its payload.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft performed an integrated system test with its Atlas V rocket on Monday, August 1, 2005, in the Atlas Vertical Integration Facility.
29-Jul-2005 Last Stop: Launch Pad
JPL's launch vehicle manager Arden Acord, a man in his mid-forties with gray hair and gray beard and goatee, wears a dark colored hat and huge smile as he stands next to the large, brightly-decorated, protective fairing for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  The fairing bears the red, white and blue circular NASA logo as well as the colorful depiction of the spacecraft at work around Mars.  The fairing is attached to a rig that will lift it up to be attached to the top of the Atlas V rocket that will launch it to Mars.  Behind Acord and the fairing is the Atlas V rocket in its extremely tall Vertical Integration Facility.
JPL launch vehicle manager Arden Acord gives the "thumbs up" as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reaches its final Earth-bound destination – Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
25-Jul-2005 Spacecraft Shrouded: Encapsulation
This image features the large Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft being loaded into its protective fairing in the very white cleanroom of the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility.  The fairing is open and appears “halved.”  The inside of the fairing appears grooved;  grooves at the top are white, while the lower grooves are black with grayish horizontal lines.  Only the left half is visible in this image, with the spacecraft in front of it, slowly being moved inside of it.  The spacecraft is stowed – its giant solar panels at its sides like folded wings.  The large high-gain antenna dish sits atop the spacecraft, facing upward.  In the right background of the photo, technicians and engineers covered completely in white cleanroom suits supervise the operation.
Workers in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility stand by as the first half of the fairing (left) is moved closer to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (right) for installation. The fairing protects the spacecraft during launch and flight through the atmosphere. Once in space, it is jettisoned. Launch of the orbiter aboard an Atlas V rocket will be from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in a window opening Aug. 10.
20-Jul-2005 Fueled for Flight
In this image, two men are in various stages of gearing up in suits that will protect them as they fuel the Deep Impact Spacecraft.  The suits are white with black accents.  These suits are distinctly different from regular cleanroom 'bunny suits.'  The gloves are large and black and cuffed by a silver protective band.  The boots, too, are large, black and secured to the leg by the same type of silver protective band.  The entire front of the large head gear is characterized by a clear, curved 'windshield' that, from the outside, reveals the wearer’s entire head – not just his/her eyes as some cleanroom suits do.
Looking like something out of a science fiction movie, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team loaded 1,196 kilograms (2,637 pounds) of fuel onto the vehicle in one of the final steps before launch.
11-Jul-2005 Practice, Practice, Practice: 'Wet Dress Rehearsal'
This image is a view of Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.  The large Atlas V rocket that will carry the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter through Earth's atmosphere sits tall and majestic against a light blue sky blotted with very faint white clouds.  The lower stage of the rocket (closest to the ground) is half copper-colored and half white.  The upper stage, which is roughly half the size of the lower stage, is white and gold.  White smoke billows from the adaptor area where the stages meet as the 'wet dress rehearsal' is conducted.  To the left and right of the rocket sit two large towers that serve as lightning rods to protect the rocket and spacecraft from strikes.
The launch services team at Kennedy Space Center conducted an all-important "wet dress rehearsal" for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission in mid-July, 2005.

During the rehearsal, the Atlas V rocket was fired. Pre-liftoff operations were conducted and the rocket’s engine was fueled.
08-Jul-2005 Fairing Preparing for Farewell
This image features the large nose cone that will protect the Mars Reconnaissance Spacecraft before and during launch.  The white structure’s larger, lower cylinder is capped by a cone-shaped piece.  The colorful Mars Reconnaissance logo adorns the side.  The logo background is black and dotted with simulated stars.  The cartoon spacecraft is 'conducting science' and is featured with brightly colored swirls that simulate the spacecraft’s orbit around the planet Mars.  Within the logo, the swath of the HiRISE camera is simulated and that swath echoes the cone shape of the fairing itself.  A person dressed in light blue cleanroom attire (called a 'bunny suit') stands in front of the fairing, which is nearly four times his or her height.
This image features the protective fairing that will encapsulate the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter atop an Atlas V rocket. The lively logo celebrates the intense science mission ahead of the orbiter.
18-May-2005 Getting Closer to Countdown: Spacecraft Undergoes Readiness Tests
In this image, workers wearing blue coveralls (called 'bunny suits'), white hair bonnets and face masks work on the immense Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in a large, white cleanroom at NASA’s  Kennedy Space Center.  On the left side of the image the technicians and engineers are removing one of the large solar panels, about the size of a billboard.  On the right side of the image is the spacecraft itself, a large portion of which is covered in protective gold and black thermal blanketing.  Multiple cords, used for power and testing, hang from the massive spacecraft bus.
It's no easy task getting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter ready for launch. Workers stabilize the crane holding one of the enormous billboard-sized solar panels temporarily removed from the spacecraft prior to rigorous testing. This test is one of many "checkups" the spacecraft must undergo to verify its readiness for launch.
30-Apr-2005 Next Vital Step: Spacecraft Delivery
In this image, against the dark backdrop of the Florida night, the 'mouth'  of a large Air Force cargo plane is open, revealing one of two large white boxes containing the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  The box is more than two times the height of the men standing in front of it, supervising its move off of the aircraft.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was delivered in two large containers from Lockheed Martin to Cape Canaveral on an Air Force C-17 cargo plane. Over the next several months, engineers and technicians will prepare the spacecraft for its scheduled launch in August.
01-Apr-2005 One Step Closer to Launch: Rocket Delivery
This image shows the Atlas V rocket booster being delivered to Cape Canaveral. Under blue skies streaked with thin clouds, technicians supervise the unloading of the large Atlas V rocket booster from a Russian cargo plane.  The booster is covered in a protective white cloth.  Looking like a great white shark with its mouth wide open, the enormous cargo plane's nose cone is lifted to allow the rocket to be rolled out onto the asphalt 'Skid Strip' at Cape Canaveral.
Lockheed Martin just delivered the Atlas V rocket to Cape Canaveral! The rocket will now go through a series of tests to ensure it's ready to send Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to the red planet. Lift-off is expected on August 10, 2005.
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