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MRO enters orbit
Posted: Fri, Mar 10, 2006, 8:40 PM ET (0140 GMT)
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter illustration (NASA/JPL) NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft successfully entered orbit around Mars Friday afternoon. The spacecraft started its 27-mninute orbit insertion burn at 4:24 pm EST (2124 GMT) and slipped behind the planet, as seen from Earth, at 4:51 pm EST (2151 GMT). Contact with MRO was restored on schedule at 5:16 pm EST (2216 GMT). Initial indications are that the spacecraft is in its desired elliptical orbit around the planet, one that the spacecraft will gradually circularize over the next several months through a series of aerobraking passes in the planet's upper atmosphere. 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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