This artist's concept represents the "Follow the Water" theme of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission (MRO). MRO's science instruments monitor the present water cycle in the Mars atmosphere and the associated deposition and sublimation of water ice on the surface, while probing the subsurface to see how deep the water ice reservoir detected by Mars Odyssey extends. At the same time, MRO will search for surface features and minerals (e.g., carbonates and sulfates) that record the extended presence of liquid water on its surface earlier in the history of the planet. The instruments involved are the shallow radar SHARAD, the CRISM spectrometer, the MARCI weather camera, the HiRISE high-resolution camera, the CTX context camera and the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS).
To the far left, the SHARAD antenna beams down and "sees" into the first few hundreds of feet (up to 1 kilometer) of Mars' crust. Just to the right of that, the next beam highlights the data received from the CRISM spectrometer that identifies minerals on the surface. The next beam over represents the HiRISE camera which can "zoom in" on local targets, providing the highest-resolution orbital images yet of features like craters and gullies and rocks.
The beam that shines almost horizontally is that of the Mars Climate Sounder. This instrument is critical to analyzing the current climate of Mars since it observes the temperature, humidity, and dust content of the martian atmosphere, their seasonal and year-to-year variations. Meanwhile, the MARCI images ice clouds, dust clouds and hazes, and the ozone distribution, producing daily global maps in multiple colors to monitor daily weather and seasonal changes.
The electromagnetic spectrum is represented on the top right and individual instruments are placed where their capability lies.
Image credit: NASA/JPL
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