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NASA - Science Objectives
July 14, 2005

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

artist's concept representing follow the water theme for Mars by showing orbiter instruments monitoring water cycle
Image above: Artist's concept showing spacecraft instruments monitoring
water cycle on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL.
+ Full image and caption.

Six instruments will be carried by the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to achieve these objectives:

High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)
This visible camera can reveal small-scale objects in the debris blankets of mysterious gullies and details of geologic structure of canyons, craters, and layered deposits.

Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometers for Mars (CRISM) This instrument splits visible and near-infrared light of 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.

Context Imager (CTX) This camera will provide wide area views to help provide a context for high-resolution analysis of key spots on Mars provided by HiRISE and CRISM.

Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARAD) This sounding radar will probe beneath the Martian surface to see if water ice is present at depths greater than one meter. [More]

Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) This atmospheric profiler will detect vertical variations of temperature, dust, and water vapor concentrations in the Martian atmosphere.

Mars Color Imager (MARCI) This weather camera will monitor clouds and dust storms.

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
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