Developed since 2002, the MRO spacecraft was successfully launched on August 12, 2005, 7:43 a.m. EDT by an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Pad 41. After an about seven-month interplanetary cruise, it arrived at Mars on March 10, 2006. After successful Mars Orbit Insertion, it entered a highly-excentric orbit, and used aerobraking techniques to adjust its orbit to a lower, semi-circular orbit for data collection, a process which lasted from March to November, 2006. Since, it is conducting its science mission.
During MRO's science mission, the spacecraft does studies of Mars from orbit, including high-resolution measurements and images with a resolution of 20 to 30 cm. This included, in particular, photographs of old and new Mars landers and rovers. It also served as communications relay for later Mars landers Phoenix in 2008 and Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory, MSL) in 2012; it also obtained photos of these spacecraft during and after landing.
Last Modification: August 20, 2012