Skip to comments.NASA Pauses Mars Missions To Avoid Interference
Posted on 04/04/2013 5:52:37 PM PDT by BenLurkin
In an effort to avoid problems caused by interference, NASA will temporarily limit scientific observations by its Mars rovers and orbiters beginning Thursday as the Red Planet passes behind the sun as seen from Earth. The sun will appear between Earth and Mars throughout the month of April in a setup known as a Mars solar conjunction, which can interfere with communications between the two planets. Specifically, during these solar conjunctions, solar flares and charged particles being emitted from the sun can disrupt radio communications, and thus could interfere with the stream of data being sent back and forth to NASA's spacecraft and rovers on Mars.
Solar conjunctions appear every 26 months or so, each time causing temporary stand-downs of NASA's Mars missions. NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has gone through six conjunctions, providing NASA with sufficient experience to ensure a smooth transition. Curiosity is the only piece of equipment that has yet to be through a solar conjunction.
Communications with and control of the Mars Curiosity rover and communications with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will be suspended beginning Thursday, with communications with the Opportunity rover ending and Odyssey orbiter being limited beginning April 9. The spacecraft will be fully back online by May 1.
Yeah, I can see how trying to accomplish radio-linked remote control through 880,000 miles of thermonuclear hell might put the old S/N ratio into the danger zone.
They halt the comm but keep the engines running?
Aren’t there some type of stationary radio towers that monitor the sun out there? can’t they just use these to relay signals?
Sorry. EE humor. Lame.
Well, yeah, they could bounce it off that relay station we set up on Pluto during the Disney administration. But now that Pluto's no longer a planet, it's a long shot.
Juust kidding. Where's your sense of humor?
I don’t know what they are called, SOHO or something.
The Orbit of Mars
This animation shows how Earth and Mars move around the Sun in their orbits.
Click the “Play Fast” button in the lower left corner to make the planets move. For every second that goes by, the planets will move ahead one week’s worth of time.
(requires Flash player)
Next date of Earth/Mars opposition:
8 April 2014
Next date of closest encounter with Mars:
14 April 2014
There are actually quite a few of them. I couldn't help making a bit of fun of what is actually not a terrible idea, as long as we're brainstorming.
OK. Brainstorming period's over. It'll never work.
SOHO is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.
It is not a data relay satellite but an observation platform for study and monitoring of the Sun.
You might be thinking of the TDRS (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite) series of satellites that orbit the Earth.
Again, they only orbit the Earth and could not do the job you would like them to do.
There are orbiters monitoring the sun but they’re either too close to the sun or its just not important enough to waste the satellite time relaying messages.
There are plenty of other missions out there that could be used as relays but the rovers can wait.
There are lots of craft out there that could be used as relays. Dawn, Juno, Cassini, even New Horizons if you wanted a long relay.
I just think its not important. Besides, during the few weeks the rover sits there its saving us a few bucks. I’m a little surprised Obama hasn’t claimed it to be a victim of the sequester “cuts”.
Why is it always left to me for the
obligatory, “What about Uranus” type of comment?
BTW, can’t we use Uranus?
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