Nerval's Lobster writes: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has sent 200 terabits of scientific data all the way back to Earth over the past seven years. That data largely comes from six instruments aboard the craft, and doesn’t include the information used to manage the equipment’s health. That 200-terabit milestone also surpasses the ten years’ worth of data returned via NASA’s Deep Space Network from all other missions managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “The sheer volume is impressive, but of course what’s most important is what we are learning about our neighboring planet,” JPL’s Rich Zurek, the project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, wrote in a statement. It takes roughly two hours for the craft to orbit Mars, recording voluminous amounts of data on everything from the atmosphere to the subsurface. Thanks to its instruments, we know that Mars is a dynamic environment, once home to water. “Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has shown that Mars is still an active planet, with changes such as new craters, avalanches and dust storms,” Zurek added. “Mars is a partially frozen world, but not frozen in time.” While the Orbiter’s two-year “primary science phase” ended in 2008, NASA has granted the hardware three additional extensions, each of which has resulted in additional insight into the Red Planet’s secrets.
"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the
pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay."
-- Arthur Miller