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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
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MISSION

Objectives

To contribute to the four science goals, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has the following science objectives:

  1. Characterize the present climate of Mars and its physical mechanisms of seasonal and interannual climate change

  2. Determine the nature of complex layered terrain on Mars and identify water-related landforms

  3. Search for sites showing evidence of aqueous and/or hydrothermal activity

  4. Identify and characterize sites with the highest potential for landed science and sample return by future Mars missions

  5. Return scientific data from Mars landed craft during a relay phase

Science Instruments that are helping meet these objectives

Six instruments on board the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are helping to achieve these objectives:

Cameras
High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment
HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment)
This visible camera reveals small-scale objects in the debris blankets of mysterious gullies and details of geologic structure of canyons, craters, and layered deposits.
Context Camera
CTX (Context Camera)
This camera provides wide-area views to help provide a context for high-resolution analysis of key spots on Mars provided by HiRISE and CRISM.
Mars Color Imager
MARCI (Mars Color Imager)
This weather camera monitors clouds and dust storms.
Spectrometer
Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars
CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars)
This instrument splits visible and near-infrared light in its images into hundreds of "colors" that identify minerals, especially those likely formed in the presence of water, in surface areas on Mars not much bigger than a football field.
Radiometer
Mars Climate Sounder
MCS (Mars Climate Sounder)
This atmospheric profiler detects vertical variations in temperature, dust, and water vapor concentrations in the Martian atmosphere.
Radar
Shallow Radar
SHARAD (Shallow Radar)
This sounding radar probes beneath the Martian surface to see if water ice is present at depths greater than one meter (3.3 feet).

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