VIDEO: Ten Years of Discovery by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

By  //  March 11, 2016

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Orbiter arrived at Mars March 10, 2006

ABOVE VIDEO: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has clocked more than a decade of service at the Red Planet and has yielded scientific discoveries and magnificent views of a distant world. These images taken by MRO’s HiRISE camera are not in true color because they include infrared information in order to be optimized for geological science.

True to its purpose, the big NASA spacecraft that began orbiting Mars a decade ago this week has delivered huge advances in knowledge about the Red Planet.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has revealed in unprecedented detail a planet that held diverse wet environments billions of years ago and remains dynamic today.

One example of MRO’s major discoveries was published last year, about the possibility of liquid water being present seasonally on present-day Mars.

It drew on three key capabilities researchers gained from this mission: telescopic camera resolution to find features narrower than a driveway; spacecraft longevity to track seasonal changes over several Martian years; and imaging spectroscopy to map surface composition.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrived at Mars on March 10, 2006. This graphic quantifies some of its accomplishments. (NASA.gov image)

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrived at Mars on March 10, 2006. This graphic quantifies some of its accomplishments. (NASA.gov image)

Other discoveries have resulted from additional capabilities of the orbiter. These include identifying underground geologic structures, scanning atmospheric layers and observing the entire planet’s weather daily.

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All six of the orbiter’s science instruments remain productive in an extended mission more than seven years after completion of the mission’s originally planned primary science phase.

“This mission has helped us appreciate how much Mars — a planet that has changed greatly over time — continues to change today,” said MRO Project Scientist Rich Zurek of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. JPL manages the mission.

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True to its purpose, the big NASA spacecraft that began orbiting Mars a decade ago this week has delivered huge advances in knowledge about the Red Planet. (NASA.gov image)

True to its purpose, the big NASA spacecraft that began orbiting Mars a decade ago this week has delivered huge advances in knowledge about the Red Planet. (NASA.gov image)


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