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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter operations teamThe Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched in August on a seven-month journey to the Red Planet to search for water. The orbiter is twice the size and packs better technology than any previous probe sent to Mars. This is also the first spacecraft to use "aerobraking," a six-month process where the craft uses friction from the planet to settle into its final orbit.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter operations team prepares for the spacecraft's final approach to Mars, which is expected to take place Friday.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
In this artist's conception of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, note the thin, long pole in the center. That's the SHARAD antenna, which will be able to view liquid or water in up to 1 kilometer of the Mars crust. Also center, covered by blankets, is the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, which will provide the highest-resolution photos to date.
NASA tested the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera while en route to Mars. The camera took this picture of Earth's moon from 6 million miles away. To the naked eye, the moon would appear as a star-like point of light at such a distance. The test verified the camera's focusing capability and provided an opportunity for calibration.