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What’s Mars solar conjunction, and why does it matter? – Phys.org

What’s Mars solar conjunction, and why does it matter? – Phys.org

This animation illustrates Mars solar conjunction, a period when Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. During this time, the Sun can interrupt radio transmissions to spacecraft on and around the Red Planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech The daily chatter between antennas here on Earth and those on NASA spacecraft at Mars is…

What's Mars photograph voltaic conjunction, and why does it matter?
This animation illustrates Mars photograph voltaic conjunction, a duration when Mars is on the opposite aspect of the Sun from Earth. All over this time, the Sun can interrupt radio transmissions to spacecraft on and across the Red Planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The on day by day foundation chatter between antennas here on Earth and those on NASA spacecraft at Mars is about to rep mighty quieter for about a weeks.

That’s because Mars and Earth shall be on opposite facets of the Sun, a duration is known as Mars photograph voltaic conjunction. The Sun expels sizzling, ionized gas from its corona, which extends some distance into location. All over photograph voltaic conjunction, this gas can intervene with when engineers strive to talk with spacecraft at Mars, corrupting instructions and ensuing in unexpected behavior from our deep location explorers.

To be precise, engineers enjoy off on sending instructions when Mars disappears some distance ample on the again of the Sun’s corona that there is increased probability of radio interference.

“It be that time again,” stated Roy Gladden, manager of the Mars Relay Community at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Our engineers were getting prepared our spacecraft for conjunction for months. They’ll restful be amassing at Mars, and a few will strive to ship that data dwelling. But lets no longer be commanding the spacecraft out of verbalize that they would possibly perchance well act on a corrupted show.”

When is that this taking space?

Solar conjunction occurs every two years. This time, the enjoy on issuing instructions—called a “show moratorium”—will bustle from Aug. 28 to Sept. 7, 2019. Some missions will hang stopped commanding their spacecraft earlier in preparation for the moratorium.


What occurs to the spacecraft?

Even supposing some devices aboard spacecraft—in particular cameras that generate vast amounts of data—shall be idle, all of NASA’s Mars spacecraft will proceed their science; they are going to honest proper hang mighty extra excellent “to-assemble” lists than they in overall would enact.

On the surface of Mars, the Curiosity rover will cease driving, while the InSight lander would possibly perchance well perchance no longer switch its robotic arm. Above Mars, each the Odyssey orbiter and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will proceed amassing data from Curiosity and InSight for return to Earth. Then again, simplest Odyssey will strive to relay that data to Earth sooner than conjunction ends. Length in-between, but every other orbiter, MAVEN, will proceed to rep its maintain science data however would possibly perchance well perchance no longer beef up any relay operations all one of the most most practical ways through this time.

All of this vogue that there shall be a immediate-term stop within the circulation of raw images readily accessible from Curiosity, InSight and the diversified Mars missions. Mars photograph voltaic conjunction impacts operations of all spacecraft currently at Mars, no longer honest proper NASA’s.

What occurs when photograph voltaic conjunction ends?

Once is over, the spacecraft will beam the information they’ve quiet to NASA’s Deep Do apart Community, a system of wide Earth-essentially based completely radio antennas managed by JPL. Engineers will use about every week downloading the information sooner than fashioned operations resume.

If the groups monitoring these missions identify any of the quiet science data are corrupted, they are going to in overall hang that data retransmitted after the moratorium ends on Sept. 7.



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What’s Mars photograph voltaic conjunction, and why does it matter? (2019, August 24)
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