During this phase, science observations are more complex than on previous Mars missions, because Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter coordinates three basic observation goals:
Targeted observations often involve nearly simultaneous, coordinated observations by more than one instrument.
By mid-March 2008, with the support of two 34-meter (112-foot) Deep Space Network Deep Space Network antennas each day of the primary science phase, the project had returned more than 50 Terabits of science data, more data than all previous planetary missions combined.
Toward the end of the primary science phase, other Mars missions launched in 2007 will begin to arrive. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will use its Electra UHF radio to provide for any navigation, command, and telemetry needs these missions may have. While the primary science phase is planned to end after one Mars year, NASA may choose to approve continuation of science observations beyond the primary science phase until end of the relay phase.