NASA mission for Mars through Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
NASA is set to blast off its fourth Mars orbiter on Wednesday. The craft would be carrying some of the most sophisticated science instruments ever sent into space. NASA calls it the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and it would be scanning the desolate surface in search of sites to land more robotic explorers in the next decade. Project manager James Graf of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said in a statement: “It’s time we start peeling back the onion layer and start looking at Mars from different vantage points.â€
This probe would also be seeking presence of water on the surface of the Red Planet and other signs, which might indicate that some form of life exists on Mars. The mission is expected to cost around USD 720 million to the American Space Agency and it would be launched from the Cape Canaveral. It would also be serving as a communications link to relay data to Earth.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter would be carrying powerful cameras which can snap the sharpest pictures yet of the planet’s rust-colored surface. It has lenses that can take pictures with six times higher resolution than past images. The space agency has till now managed to only attain pictures of around 2% of the planet at high resolutions.
This mission would also be the last one for NASA in this decade as it struggles to maintain the Space Shuttle fleet safe for missions to space. Lack of funds has already resulted in cancellation of a $500 million mission planned for 2009.