Current Postion of Earth and Mars

The Images Shown Below Update Once Every Day at 1:00 AM PDT


Overhead View of Earth & Mars


Mars Global Surveyor's View of the Sun & Earth

What Happens When the Sun is Between Earth and Mars

During the interval around solar conjunction the Sun obscures the line of sight between Earth and Mars, making it virtually impossible to receive radio signals from the spacecraft. The Sun is a strong source of electromagnetic activity, and it wreaks havoc with the spacecraft's radio signal, essentially reducing the spacecraft's data rate to Earth to zero for the period centered around conjunction. Mission planners and telemetry engineers define this problem area as occurring when the Sun-Earth-MGS angle is less than 7 degrees; a relatively "quiet" Sun can mean that data can be successfully returned at angles as small as 3-5 degrees.