Feeds

NASA delays Mars mission by 24 hours

Dodgy rocket parts need to be ruled out

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Today should have seen the launch of the next mission to Mars, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. However, NASA has elected to delay the launch by 24 hours because of problems with the new Atlas V rocket launcher.

NASA said that a test at the manufacturers had revealed a problem with a part similar to those used in the flight control system on board the MRO launcher. The engineering team is now trying to work out of the problem that affected the part at the manufacturer is likely to affect the Atlas V that will propel the MRO into space.

Originally slated to blast off from Cape Canaveral at 12:54 British Summer Time, NASA says the Orbiter will now launch between 12:35 and 14:50 BST on Thursday.

The mission's main aim is to discover more about the history of water on Mars. During its 25-month mission, the MRO will scan the surface of Mars. The data it captures, including images in extreme close-up, will yield information about subsurface water, the minerals in the Martian soil, and the distribution of dust and water in the atmosphere. The orbiter will also monitor the daily global weather.

One of the cameras on board, the HiRISE, will be able to capture details of objects the size of a small table, raising the possibility that the missing Beagle 2 lander, and other lost Mars missions, could be seen from orbit.

Despite the huge surface area to be scanned, Professor Pillinger, Beagle 2's lead scientist, is optimistic about the chances of finding the lost craft. "If we could just see some trace of it on the surface then at least we could see how far it got the not knowing is the worst bit. It will be a very difficult thing to do but this is our best chance of finding out what happened," he said.

Dr Andrew Coates from UCLs Mullard Space Science Laboratory says that the MRO's research will compliment the work already done by the European Mars Express orbiter. "When combined with the data from Mars Express we will have an incredibly detailed picture of Mars, its atmosphere and surface, including ideal sites for future Landers. Additionally, MRO could provide a communications channel to Earth for future European robotic surface missions like ExoMars," he said. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.