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Curiosity : Communication

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Published on Aug 5, 2012

This animation shows how orbiters over Mars will monitor the landing of NASA's Curiosity rover. Curiosity 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. As the rover descends to Mars, it will send out basic radio-frequency tones that go directly to Earth. NASA's Odyssey orbiter will then relay more complex UHF radio signals from the rover to Earth. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will fly over NASA's Curiosity (shown in pink) as the rover lands on the Red Planet. The video is slowed down as the orbiter approaches the landing site for better viewing. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will capture data during Curiosity's entry, descent and landing for later playback to Earth. Its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera will attempt to take an image of Curiosity as it descends to the surface (green). HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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