Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Lifts Off
August 12, 2005 -- The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 7:43 a.m. EDT this morning. The spacecraft will join three other working orbiters that have been circling and monitoring the planet for years -- NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey and the European Space Agency's Mars Express.
By November 2006, the craft should have settled into its final orbit, about 190 miles above the planet, and be ready to deliver high-resolution images and other data. The orbiter carries some of the most sophisticated instruments ever sent to Mars and NASA expects the mission to provide more information than all previous missions to the Mars combined.
A National Academies report, Assessment of Mars Science and Mission Priorities, reviews research opportunities, and considers future research priorities.