NASA has developed a spacecraft that is intended to conduct exploration and reconnaissance of the planet Mars from its orbit. The name of the multipurpose spacecraft is Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter or MRO. There were five other spacecrafts that were on the orbit or on the surface of the planet on the moment MRO entered the Martian orbit. These crafts were Mars Express, Mars Global Surveyor, two Mars Exploration Rovers and Mars Odyssey. This was the time that the most spacecrafts operated near and on Mars in the same time. The builder of the MRO was Lockheed Martin and the project cost 720 million USD. Jet Propulsion Laboratory supervised the construction of MRO which was launched in 2005, on the 12th of August. It reached the orbit of Mars less than a year later, in March 2006. After the aerobraking which lasted for five months, the MRO started its first science phase in November 2006.
MRO uses radar, spectrometers and cameras to analyze the minerals and ice on Mars, the stratigraphy and the landforms. Surface conditions and the daily weather are being monitored daily, so the information could be used by future spacecrafts. It also studies possible landing sites. The telecommunication system installed on MRO is more developed than the one of the previous missions. This permits for more information to be sent to Earth, so it will play the role of a relay satellite for further missions.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory is managing the mission for NASA
Although MRO was initially scheduled for 2003, along with the Mars Exploration Rovers, it lost the proposal process in favor of the other mission. Therefore, it was rescheduled to be launched in 2005 and the final name, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, was announced by NASA in October 2000.