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Waspie_Dwarf

Communicating with Curiosity

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Communicating with Curiosity

This artist's animation shows how NASA's Curiosity rover will communicate with Earth via two of NASA's Mars orbiters, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Odyssey. As the rover descends to the surface of Mars, it will send out two different types of data: basic radio-frequency tones that go directly to Earth (pink dashes) and more complex UHF radio data (blue circles). Odyssey will pick up the UHF signal and relay it immediately back to Earth (seen as a beam of small blue circles). Meanwhile, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will record the UHF data and play it back to Earth at a later time.

Back on Earth, the rover's signals are picked up by large antenna dishes at NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN), which has three complexes in Goldstone, Calif., Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia. The DSN sends the information to Curiosity's mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Calif.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Curiosity's mission site

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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Phoning Home - Communicating from Mars

How will we know if Curiosity has landed safely on the surface of Mars?

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Curiosity's mission site

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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Great Convergence of Spacecraft around Mars

This artist's animation shows how orbiters over Mars will monitor the landing of NASA's Curiosity rover.

The animation starts with the path of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft capsule – which has the Curiosity rover tucked inside – speeding towards its Martian landing site in Gale Crater. Then, the paths of NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter become visible. Curiosity will be sending some basic radio-frequency tones straight back to Earth during its entry, descent and landing, on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). But sending more detailed engineering data about the landing is more complicated. Those kinds of data will be sent by Curiosity to the orbiters Odyssey and MRO, which will then relay them back to NASA's Deep Space Network antennas on Earth. Curiosity can only send the data to Odyssey and MRO when it can see the orbiters – as soon as they rise above and before they set below the Martian horizon.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Curiosity's mission site

Source: NASA - Multimedia

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