Curiosity Communicates with Help From Its ‘Friends’

August 27, 2012
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This animation shows how NASA's Curiosity rover communicates with Earth via two of NASA's Mars orbiters, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Odyssey, and the European Space Agency's Mars Express. The rover sends the signals to the orbiters, which then passes them on to Earth. This allows for more data to be transmitted at a faster rate.

The paths of the orbiters around Mars are shown, in addition to the location of Curiosity within Gale Crater. The movie then switches to the perspective of the rover, showing the route of MRO overhead.

Back on Earth, the signals are picked up by large antenna dishes at NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN), which has three complexes in Goldstone, Calif., Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia. The DSN sends the information to Curiosity's mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Calif.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech