NASA is requiring future Mars orbiters to have longer lifetimes so they can serve as high-bandwidth relay stations for ground-based rovers and landers even after their main science missions are complete. G. Scott Hubbard, NASA's Mars program director in the Office of Space Science, said the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), slated for launch in 2005, will be the first to have this built-in extended capability. "We're starting to require that new missions, new orbital ...

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