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The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter begins on Friday 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.
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 HRISE camera, which will provide the highest-resolution photos to date.
During testing of the craft, workers stabilize the crane holding one of the enormous billboard-size solar panels.