NASA Orbiter Enters the Red Planet”s Orbit

fp__mro_bThe NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has entered into orbit around Mars yesterday

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had a seven-month, 310-million mile journey from Earth, before entering Mars" orbit on Friday. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter sent signals to controllers at NASA"s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at 2:15 PST. Up until the signals were received, NASA engineers were nervous because the space agency has lost several of the last orbiters that have been sent to Mars during the same maneuver. MRO will spend the next seven months adjusting its orbit before it will start surveying the planet.

As it neared the planet, it fired its main propulsion engines for 27 minutes to slow itself down so that the planet"s gravity could pull it into orbit. At one point during the burn, the spacecraft disappeared behind Mars — as engineers had planned — and was temporarily out of radio contact with controllers.

The MRO will begin a $720 million, six-year mission to explore Mars in low orbit for several years while hopefully giving researchers on Earth intricate details about the planet. The spacecraft will also plan possible landing locations for future missions. If all goes according to plan, NASA claims that this mission should gather more data than all previous Mars missions combined.

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