Communication to Mars Rovers to be hit in April

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Communication to Mars Rovers to be hit in April

Communications between ground stations and Nasa spacecraft at Mars will be affected in April because of the position of the planets, an announcement from the space agency said on Thursday.

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TOI has learnt that this will happen from April 4. This is happening at a time when Curiosity has resumed science ops after a computer glitch.

According to Nasa, Mars will be passing almost directly behind the sun, from the earth’s perspective. This means that the sun can easily disrupt radio transmissions between the two planets during that near – alignment.

To prevent an impaired command from reaching an orbiter or rover , mission controllers at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory ( JPL ), Pasadena in California are preparing to suspend sending any commands to spacecraft at Mars for weeks in April. Transmissions from Mars to earth will also be reduced, Nasa stated.

Such an alignment of earth and Mars takes place on every 26 months, and is called the Mars Solar Conjunction.

There are four Nasa spacecraft on Mars. Mars Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are orbiting the Red Planet, while Opportunity and Curiosity are rovers operating on the surface of Mars. “This is our sixth conjunction for Odyssey,” said Chris Potts of JPL, mission manager for Nasa’s Mars Odyssey, which has been orbiting Mars since 2001. “We have useful experience dealing with them, though each conjunction is a little different,” he has been quoted as saying.

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