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Orbiter will soon reach Mars, says NASA

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will soon reach the red planet, ending a seven-month voyage, NASA said.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 09:59 IST

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will soon reach the red planet, ending a seven-month voyage, NASA said.

"This mission will greatly expand our scientific understanding of Mars, pave the way for our next robotic missions later in this decade and help us prepare for sending humans to Mars," Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Programme, said on Friday.

The probe, weighing more than two tonnes, blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on August 12.

It will take months to position the probe in an orbit about 313 kilometres above the surface.

The probe will then begin its 35-month mission of observing Martian soil, subsoil and atmosphere with the aid of six instruments.

The orbiter joins three other probes already looking for traces of water on the surface: the Mars Global Surveyor and the Mars Odyssey from the United States, and the European Mars Express.

Meanwhile, two US robots, Spirit and Opportunity, scour the surface two years after they were deployed to the surface of Mars.

First Published: Feb 25, 2006 09:17 IST