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NASA ready for MRO arrival
Posted: Tue, Feb 28, 2006, 8:03 AM ET (1303 GMT)
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter illustration (NASA/JPL) NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft is set to arrive at the Red Planet in early March with no problems reported, project officials said. MRO, launched last August, will reach Mars on March 10: a 30-minute thruster burn will slow the spacecraft down and allow the planet's gravity to capture the spacecraft into an elongated 35-hour orbit. Aerobraking maneuvers over the next six months will lower the spacecraft into a circular two-hour orbit. Project officials said the mission is going well, but nonetheless are nervous about the upcoming orbital insertion maneuver. MRO carries six instruments, including the most powerful camera ever flown to Mars and a radar that will probe for water below the planet's surface. MRO will also serve as a communications relay for future Mars missions, including the Phoenix lander and Mars Science Laboratory rover.
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