Mars Enters Solar Conjunction

Image credit: Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (ESA and NASA)

Image credit: Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (ESA and NASA)

Ever wonder how NASA communicates with science missions around other worlds? The answer is pretty simple ⁠— NASA sends commands to space missions using large radio dishes and receives updates from those missions in much the same way. Sometimes, though, the Sun comes between the Earth and other worlds, making it difficult to send radio signals to those worlds. This time is called solar conjunction. Mars just entered solar conjunction, where our communications with the Red Planet and its host of robotic explorers are obscured by interference generated by the Sun’s plasma. For the moment, that means all but the most critical communications with missions to Mars are suspended, but the rover, lander, and orbiters are still collecting science data that will be returned in a week or so when Mars comes out from behind the Sun. Read more about solar conjunction and its effects on NASA’s robotic mission operations here.

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