NASA was forced to scrub the launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on top of a Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral today – on a mission to collect data from the Red Planet.
The launch was delayed from Wednesday due to problem with a gyro on the spaceship. A problem with the sensors that measure the amount of fuel being loaded into the rocket appeared just minutes before lift-off today.
“With the subsurface of Mars, we’ve literally just scratched the surface and we’re trying to probe, now, more than a couple of feet into it,” said project scientist Richard Zurek of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The orbiter will join three other spacecrafts, including a European orbiter, when it arrives at the planet in March 2006. Two NASA rovers launched in 2003, Spirit and Opportunity, also continue to roam the planet – way beyond their expected lifespans – providing information on Mars.
The Atlas V will be followed by yet another launch on Saturday – in the busy NASA calendar – via a Boeing Delta 4 rocket carrying GOES-N Sat (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite N) to an orbit of 22,300 miles.
NASA will try again tomorrow to launch MRO.
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