Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission
James E Graf,
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
p.m., Monday, 7 November,
School of Physics
Room 64 Old Main Building
The University of New South Wales
The Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter (MRO) was launched on August 12, 2005 by an Atlas V 401 expendable
launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, USA.
The spacecraft supports a payload to conduct remote sensing science
observations, identify and characterize sites for future landers, and
provide critical telecom/navigation relay capability for follow-on missions.
The mission is designed to provide global, regional survey, and targeted
observations from a low 255km by 320km Mars orbit with a 3:00 P.M. local
mean solar time (ascending node). During the one Martian year (687 Earth
days) primary science phase, the orbiter will acquire visual and near-infrared
high-resolution images of the planet's surface, monitor atmospheric
weather and climate, and search the upper crust for evidence of water.
While in this science phase, the orbiter will provide telecommunications
support for Phoenix spacecraft launched to Mars in the 2007. After the
primary science phase is complete, the orbiter will enter into its formal
relay mode and support the Mars Science Laboratory which will be launched
in the 2009 opportunity. The primary mission ends on December 31, 2010,
approximately 5.5 years after launch
James Graf received a Bachelors of Science in Engineering degree from
Princeton University and an Master of Science from Colorado State University.
He has been employed in various space-related developments for 31 years,
ranging from the development of ion thruster technology to the management
of the Quick Scatterometer Mission, an Earth orbiting satellite that
was ready to launch within one year of formal go-ahead. He is the recipient
of NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal and an Aviation Week's 1999 Laurel
for Space. Since 2000, he has been the manager of the Mars Reconnaissance