For Moratorium on Sending Commands to Mars, Blame a Sun

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This month, movements of a planets will put Mars roughly directly behind a sun, from Earth’s perspective, causing curtailed communications between Earth and Mars.

NASA will refrain from promulgation commands to America’s 3 Mars orbiters and dual Mars rovers during a duration from Jul 22 to Aug. 1.

This blueprint illustrates a positions of Mars, Earth and a object during a duration that occurs approximately each 26 months, when Mars passes roughly directly behind a object from Earth’s perspective. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Out of caution, we won’t speak to a Mars resources during that duration since we design poignant plunge in a communication link, and we don’t wish to take a probability that one of a booster would act on a depraved command,” pronounced Chad Edwards, manager of a Mars Relay Network Office during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Data will keep entrance from Mars to Earth, nonetheless detriment or crime of some pieces is expected and a information will be retransmitted later. “We will continue to accept telemetry, so we will have information each day about a standing of a vehicles,” Edwards said.

As seen from Earth, Mars intermittently passes nearby a object about each 26 months, an arrangement called “Mars solar conjunction.” During many solar conjunctions, including this year’s, Mars does not go directly behind a sun.

Viewers regulating correct eye insurance to watch a sum solar obscure on Aug. 21 will benefit a manifest doctrine in because Mars doesn’t need to be directly behind a object for communications between Earth and Mars to be degraded. The sun’s corona, that always extends distant from a aspect of a sun, becomes manifest during sum eclipses. It consists of hot, ionized gas, that can meddle with radio waves that pass by it.

To forestall a probability of a ionized gas nearby a object guileful a authority radioed to a booster during Mars, NASA avoids transmitting for a duration including several days before and after Mars gets closest to flitting behind a sun.

Teams that work Mars orbiters and rovers have been scheming for weeks in expectation of a duration that will start on Jul 22.

“The vehicles will stay active, carrying out commands sent in advance,” pronounced Mars Program Chief Engineer Hoppy Price, of JPL. “Orbiters will be creation their scholarship observations and transmitting data. The rovers won’t be driving, though observations and measurements will continue.”

The corsair teams are last a many useful sites for a rovers Curiosity and Opportunity to sojourn prolific during a solar-conjunction period.

All of NASA’s active Mars missions have knowledge from during slightest one prior solar conjunction. This will be a eighth solar and duration for a Mars Odyssey orbiter, a seventh for a Opportunity rover, a sixth for a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a third for a Curiosity corsair and a second for a MAVEN orbiter.

Edwards said, “All of these booster are now veterans of conjunction. We know what to expect.”

Source: JPL

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