Image taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter


Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is providing new information in unprecedented detail about the surface, subsurface, and atmosphere of Mars. This information has already helped Mars scientists and engineers characterize potential landing sites for other missions such as Mars Phoenix Lander and Mars Science Laboratory.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is part of a series of expeditions to the red planet that help meet the four main science goals of the Mars Exploration Program.

Mission Objectives

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter intends to meet these goals by accomplishing five specific objectives.

For a description of how Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is collecting data in support of these goals and objectives, please see science instruments in the Mission Section or visit some of the instrument sites:

Discoveries are enabled by MRO's science instruments


HiRISE Thumbnail Image
HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment)

This visible camera reveals small-scale objects in the debris blankets of mysterious gullies and details of geologic structure of canyons, craters, and layered deposits.

CRX Thumbnail Image
CTX (Context Camera)

This camera provides wide-area views to help provide a context for high-resolution analysis of key spots on Mars provided by HiRISE and CRISM.

MARCI Thumbnail Image
MARCI (Mars Color Imager)

This weather camera monitors clouds and dust storms.


CRISM Thumbnail Image
CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars)

This instrument splits visible and near-infrared light in its images into hundreds of "colors" that identify minerals, especially those likely formed in the presence of water, in surface areas on Mars not much bigger than a football field.


MCS Thumbnail Image
MCS (Mars Climate Sounder)

This atmospheric profiler detects vertical variations in temperature, dust, and water vapor concentrations in the Martian atmosphere.


SHARAD Thumbnail Image
SHARAD (Shallow Radar)

This sounding radar probes beneath the Martian surface to see if water ice is present at depthsgreater than one meter (3.3 feet).