NASA will use backups to access the data recorded by Mars’ orbiters.
The administration will develop new strategies in the following period, given that NASA’s communication with Mars will be hindered by this month’s solar conjunction. The announcement was made on Thursday after scientists enlisted some of the techniques they plan on using to continue receiving data from the Red Planet.
Starting on June 7 and all through the month of June, the Earth and the Red Planet will enter a solar conjunction. The event will render space communication impossible; therefore, NASA might not be able to receive data from Mars.
The Mars solar conjunction is not a new and unprecedented phenomenon as the administration has experienced these problems before. On the contrary, the event takes place every 26 months, so experts have grown accustomed to the small service interruption in the program of their Mars orbiters.
Experts at NASA have confessed that dealing with the first solar conjunction was one of their most difficult moments since they have started preparing the 2020 Mars Mission. Since then, they have managed to identify effective solutions for communication problems, so this year’s astronomical phenomenon won’t cause as many problems as the first conjunction.
According to NASA’s official reports, the data that is normally transmitted by Mars orbiters will be stored on special backups during the interruption period. This way, the data is not lost and it can be accessed by scientists once the conjunction is over. The small inconvenience, however, is the reduced volume of data that will be transmitted on Earth.
There are currently four major orbiters that will interrupt their communication services during the Mars solar conjunction. These are Odyssey, MRO, Curiosity and Opportunity. The robots may account as downright veterans as they have witnessed many solar conjunctions since their landing on Mars.
Odyssey has been through 7 solar conjunctions since its arrival on Mars, in 2001. Opportunity and MRO have experienced this event six or five times before, since they first started investigating Mars’ territory in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
Experts are not worried that data might be lost during the upcoming event. They take great confidence in the backup services they have used so far and they expect to get access to the new images as soon as Mars is no longer in the way of the Sun.
Other space agencies will most likely confront themselves with the same communication problems. Although the European Space Agency and the Indian Space Research Organization did not make any official declarations, they will probably rely on the same techniques to safely store data.
Image Source: HSW Static