Timeline of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Timeline of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Major events in the launch, aerobraking, and transition phases of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter ("MRO").

Launch and cruise timeline

* April 30, 2005: the "MRO" spacecraft was delivered to the launch site.
* August 9, 2005: the August 10 launch opportunity was postponed because of reliability concerns over the Atlas V's gyroscopes.
* August 10, 2005: concerns over the gyroscopes were resolved. Launch was scheduled for 7:50 am EST, August 11.
* August 11, 2005: concerns over weather cause a rescheduling of the launch to 9:00 am EST. Conflicting sensor readings during fueling of the Centaur stage's liquid hydrogen fuel tank could not be corrected in time, causing the launch to be scrubbed and rescheduled for 7:43 am EST August 12. [cite web|url=http://cbs5.com/topstories/topstories_story_223092831.html|title=NASA Delays Mars Orbiter Launch (August 11, 2005)|work=CBS-5 - San Francisco |accessdate=May 27|accessyear=2006]
* August 12, 2005: at 7:43 am EST, "MRO" was launched. There were no significant anomalies reported during launch and deployment into interplanetary transfer orbit.
* August 15, 2005: MARCI was tested and calibrated.
* August 25, 2005: at 15:19:32 UTC, "MRO" was 100 million kilometers from Mars.
* August 27, 2005: the first trajectory correction maneuver was executed. The burn used the same main thrusters that are needed for the orbital insertion maneuver and lasted 15 seconds. A velocity change of 7.8 m/s was achieved.
* September 8, 2005: "MRO" completed calibration and testing of the HiRISE and CTX cameras by taking pictures of the Moon from 10 million kilometers away.
* November 18, 2005: "MRO" underwent its second scheduled course correction by firing its 6 medium thrusters for 20 seconds and changing its velocity by 75 cm/s.
* January 29, 2006: at 06:59:24 UTC, "MRO" was 10 million kilometers from Mars.
* February 3, 2006: "MRO" began the Approach Phase, in preparation for orbital insertion.

Orbital insertion/ Aerobraking timeline

* March 10, 2006: "MRO" successfully completed orbital insertion.
* March 23, 2006: test images from three of "MRO"'s cameras were taken. HiRISE images were taken over the course of two orbits, the first returned from a height of 2500 km (at about ten times poorer resolution than when the camera is in its final orbit). The CTX and MARCI cameras also took test images. [cite web|url=http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/060321_mro_update.html|title=New Mars Orbiter Ready for Action|work=Space.com|accessdate=March 24|accessyear=2006] [cite web|url=http://www.space.com/news/060324_mro_hirise.html|title=First Images Beamed Back by Mars Probe|work=Space.com|accessdate=March 24|accessyear=2006]
* March 30, 2006: "MRO" fired its intermediate thrusters for 58 seconds and dropped its periapsis by 94 km, in preparation to begin aerobraking.
* April 7, 2006: "MRO" begins a seven month long Aerobraking Stage to reduce its highly elliptical orbit to a circular, low Mars orbit by mid-November.
* August 30, 2006: Aerobraking ended with a 6 minute burn of "MRO"'s Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) thrusters. [cite web|url=http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/060830_mro_brake.html|title=Mars Orbiter Successfully Makes Big Burn|accessdate=September 27|accessyear=2006]
* September 5, 2006: The first of two burns to correctly position "MRO" into its final science orbit was performed.
* September 11, 2006: The second of two burns to finalize "MRO"'s orbit was performed, officially ending the Aerobraking Stage.

Transition timeline

* September 16, 2006: SHARAD was successfully deployed from "MRO". [cite web|url=http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/newsroom/pressreleases/20060919a.html|title=AGround-Piercing Radar on NASA Mars Orbiter Ready for Work|accessdate=September 27|accessyear=2006]
* September 24, 2006: MCS and MARCI commenced operations, commencing a martian weather forecast.
* September 27, 2006: CRISM was powered on for the first time in space, and its lens cap was removed. In addition, SHARAD, HiRISE, and CTX were also powered on for the first time. [cite web|url=http://www.jhuapl.edu/newscenter/pressreleases/2006/060927.asp|title=APL-Built Mineral-Mapping Imager Begins Mission at Mars|accessdate=September 27|accessyear=2006]
* September 28, 2006: CRISM took its first picture at Mars.

Mission events

* September 29, 2006: All instruments will be tested from the science orbit.
* October 5, 2006: Instruments will be powered down for the Solar Conjunction.
* November 2006: Primary Science Phase (PSP) commences.
* 2008-05-25: HiRISE photographs "Phoenix" during its descent through the Martian atmosphere to a landing in Vastitas Borealis, making MRO the first probe to photograph another probe landing on the surface of another planet (not including our Moon).

References


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