The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) might look like this as it orbits Mars.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a robot spacecraft that is orbiting Mars. It will study Mars from November 2006 to November 2008. It will take lots of pictures and gather lots of data about Mars.
MRO is a big spacecraft. It is bigger than other Mars orbiters that went to Mars before MRO. MRO also has the most powerful camera that has ever flown on mission to another planet. That camera is called HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment). Cameras on earlier Mars orbiters could spot objects on Mars the size of a dinner table. HiRISE will zoom in to spot objects on Mars as small as a dinner plate.
MRO has two other cameras. One of those cameras, plus an instrument called a radiometer, will study the atmosphere of Mars. MRO carries another instrument called a spectrometer. The spectrometer will make a map of the minerals on the surface of Mars. MRO also has radar that will search for ice underground on Mars.
MRO will make better maps of Mars. It will help scientists decide where future missions to Mars should go. It might even help us decide where the first people who go to Mars should land!
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