PIA02699: Optical Navigation Demonstration Near Mars

Optical Navigation Demonstration Near Mars


This image showing the position of the Martian moon Deimos against a background of stars is part of a successful technology demonstration completed by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter before arrival at Mars.

The spacecraft's Optical Navigation Camera was used in February and March 2006 to demonstrate the use of pictures from a small camera for calculating precise location of a Mars-bound spacecraft by comparing the observed positions of Mars' two moons to their predicted positions relative to background stars. While this technique was not necessary for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's own navigation, the demonstration prepares the way for relying on it for navigating precise arrivals for future missions that land on Mars.

This example image from the Optical Navigation Camera was taken on March 6, 2006, at a distance of 1.08 million kilometers (671,000 miles) from Deimos. That moon, the smaller of Mars' two, has a diameter of 15 kilometers (9 miles), and orbits 23,459 kilometers (14,577 miles) above the planet's surface.

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target Deimos Mars
System Mars
Target Type Satellite Planet
Mission Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
Instrument Host Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Host Type Orbiter
Instrument Optical Navigation Camera
Extra Keywords Color
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2006-03-10
Date in Caption 2006-03-06
Image Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA02699
Identifier PIA02699