Mars is about to come out of conjunction – basically when an object is obscured by the Sun (and its strong magnetic field) in relation to Earth. This means that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), among other Mars-related missions, have limited to no contact with Earth for a number of weeks.
For more information on conjunction, see the video provided by NASA: http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/videos/?v=122
So who is the lucky team to help plan the first set of HiRISE (a high-resolution camera on MRO) images, when MRO comes back into contact? Why, the Western University HiRISE team, of course! The Western University HiRISE team is led by Earth Sciences Adjunct Research Professor Dr. Livio Tornabene (a HiRISE Science team member) and includes Dr. Elizabeth Silber (Physics and Astronomy postdoctoral fellow) and returning member Kayle Hansen (Earth Science undergraduate student). The team is enjoying another exciting period of collaborating with the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory HiRISE Operations and Science team, including HiRISE targeting specialists (HiTS) Nicole Baugh and Kristin Block. HiRISE’s 226th imaging campaign [cycle] executes on July 2nd and continues to July 11th.
HiRISE Cycle 226 Projects to Have Many Points of Interest
Due to being the first cycle out of conjunction, Cycle 226 will miss a few days of imaging – four to be exact. However, there are still many interesting targets and events during the planning cycle worthy of note. Some highlights include: