By August 11, 2005

Mars probe given green light

The launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is expected to go ahead as planned today.

The mission’s first launch opportunity window is 11:50 to 13:35 BST, Thursday. If the launch is postponed, additional launch windows open daily at different times each morning throughout August. For trips from Earth to Mars, the planets move into good position for only a short period every 26 months. The best launch position is when Earth is about to overtake Mars in their concentric racing lanes around the Sun.

The probe will investigate the history of water on Mars and hunt for landing sites for future manned missions.

The delay comes one day after Nasa celebrated the successful return to Earth of the space shuttle Discovery.


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