What is Mars Solar Conjunction?
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the solar system followed Mercury. When Earth and Mars comes on the opposite sides of the Sun, the radio waves sent by rovers and orbiters from the Mars get blocked by the charged particles of the Sun. It happens for about two weeks after every two years.
During the Solar Conjunction, these charged particles can interfere with the radio signals when engineers try to communicate with the spacecraft at Mars. Confusing or corrupting commands received by the rovers can put them in danger. The last conjunction period happened in 2015 and lasted for more than one month from May 27th to July 1st.
This time, the hold on the issuing commands called a “command moratorium” will run from August 28th to September 7th, NASA said.
What happens when Mars Solar Conjunction ends?
Once the conjunction is over, the spacecraft will beam the data they’ve collected to NASA’s DSN (Deep Space Network) – a system of massive antennas managed by JPL. Engineers will download the data before the normal operations resumes. If the team found any of the data corrupted, they have that data re-transmitted after the moratorium ends.
Current Mars Missions
There are many missions are active on Mars by many countries to explore this mysterious planet.
On Surface :
- InSight – The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport by NASA.
- NASA’s Curiosity rover.
In the Orbit :
- ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter by European Space Agency & Russian Space Agency.
- MAVEN by NASA.
- Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) by ISRO.
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter by NASA.