Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Launch Date Aug. 12, 2005
Launch Site Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
Destination Mars
Type Orbiter
Status Successful—Extended Mission in Progress
Nation United States
Alternate Names 2005-029A, MRO


Now in its fourth mission extension after a two-year prime mission, the orbiter and its suite of powerful instruments are investigating seasonal and longer-term changes on the surface of Mars.


  • Revealed that Mars is a world more dynamic and diverse than was previously realized.

  • Gathered data on warm-season flows that are the strongest evidence so far for liquid water on Mars today.

  • Increased more than tenfold the number of places surveyed close-up.

  • Returns more data about Mars every week than the weekly total from all six other active Mars missions.

  • Found evidence of diverse watery environments on early Mars.

  • Provided reconnaissance on potential landing sites for other Mars missions.

Key Dates

Aug. 12, 2005: Launch
Mar. 10, 2006: Mars Orbit Insertion


Launch Vehicle: Atlas V-401 (two-stage Atlas booster with Centaur upper stage)

Spacecraft Mass: 2,180 kg (4,806 pounds) total at launch, consisting of 139 kg (306 pounds) science payload, 892 kg (1,967 pounds) other dry weight, plus 1,149 kg (2,533 pounds) of propellant and pressurant

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. Hyperspectral imaging spectrometer

  2. Very-high-resolution camera

  3. Context camera

  4. Color camera

  5. Climate sounder

  6. Shallow subsurface radar

Spacecraft Dimensions: Height 6.5 m (21 feet) with a 3-m-diameter (10-foot) dish antenna; width 13.6 m (45 feet) with a pair of 5.35- by 2.53-m (17.56- by 8.30-foot) solar panels

Spacecraft Power: Solar panels and nickel-hydrogen batteries

Additional Resources

NASA: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA Mars Program: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

National Space Science Data Center Master Catalog: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA Mars Exploration Program

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