The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, which began with the launch of the spacecraft in August 2005, had as its main objective the recognition and exploration of Mars from the planet's orbit.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken the most powerful camera ever launched on a planetary exploration mission to the red planet. With this new high resolution camera, images of the Martian terrain have been achieved with extraordinary clarity and definition.
The cameras that had taken Mars with the previous missions were able to identify objects about the size of a table. However, the new camera incorporated in the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is able to detect objects the size of a plate from the Martian orbit.
The camera's capacity built into the Reconnaissance has not only provided images of the geology and structure of Mars with impressive detail, but has also greatly helped identify possible obstacles on the surface. This will avoid the difficulties that may jeopardize the safety of landing modules and future rovers that are sent to the red planet.
Another mission of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been to find groundwater through a probe. The information collected will be decisive for the selection of landing zones for the future of Mars exploration.
We also wanted to investigate the different minerals in the Martian surface, and study how dust and water are transported in the planet's atmosphere. For this, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been equipped with a second medium resolution camera to provide a wider geological and meteorological context. In this way the more detailed observations are made from other higher resolution instruments.
In addition, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has also been the first step in the installation of an "interplanetary Internet" that will be essential for future spacecraft to be sent to Mars. For now, it serves as a means of communication to Earth, although it will be used in the future by various international spacecraft.
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