NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) completed a flawless 310-million-mile trip Friday to sweep smartly into orbit around Mars, dropping out of radio contact behind the planet for a nail-biting half hour, then re-emerging on schedule.Link. Image (Phil McCarten/AP): Jim Graf, standing, project manager for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, smiles amid the celebratory reaction Friday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. (Thanks, John Parres!)
"Look at that!" yelled one engineer at Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Right on the money!" another shouted.
"It was picture-perfect," Project Manager Jim Graf told NASA television. "We couldn't have scripted it any better. It reappeared from behind Mars almost to the second."
(...) The 2-ton, school bus-size probe carries the largest telescope ever launched beyond Earth's orbit, and researchers hope it will provide surface pictures of unusual resolution and clarity, imaging items as small as a foot across.
Reader comment: In related news, JP adds:
The Google logo contains a telescope, martians and Mars. It links here, appropriately, after NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter successfully entered orbit around Mars this weekend Visitors can check out landing sites, craters and mountains. I can't wait to see what we will all be able to see when the MRO starts sending high resolution pictures back to Earth later this year!
This looks like the first public result of the Google/NASA relationship announced in September.
Google blog on Google Mars: Link.