Colloquia 2005

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission

Dr. James E Graf,
Jet Propulsion Laboratory


3 p.m., Monday, 7 November, 2005 .


School of Physics Common Room
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 Orbiter Project.

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