This will begin as Mars slip to behind the sun as seen from our home planet. This alignment is known as Mars solar conjunction that takes place roughly once every 26 months as the two planets dance in their relative orbits around our parent star.
The spacecraft which are orbiting Mars are Maven, Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. There are two rovers on the surface that includes Curiosity and Opportunity.
During this two week period, NASA, the space agency will not be able to contact with the five vehicles.
During this time, rovers on the ground will be directed to stand still, and the robotic arms will not be in operation. But, some of the spacecraft will still be able to perform scientific experiments. Except for Maven, mission planners on other programs have experienced similar blackouts during previous conjunctions.
Nagin Cox, head of the conjunction planning for Curiosity rover and from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “Our overall approach is based on what we did for the solar conjunction two years ago, which worked well. It is really helpful to have been through this before.”
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution or Maven spacecraft arrived at Mars in September 2014. That vehicle will continue to study the solar wind emanating from the sun during the blackout period.
James Morrissey, deputy project manager for Maven at the Goddard Space Flight Center said, “The data will be stored and transmitted back to us after communications are re-established at the end of the solar conjunction period.”
The other two orbiters circling Mars, MRO and Odyssey, will continue to send information back to earth, but the mission planners believe that much of the information will be lost.
Odyssey orbiter reached mars in 200, making this conjunction is the seventh conjunction for the vehicle.
The two rovers on the surface of Mars will send the data to the orbiters as they collect new information on the alien environment.
Program managers will send some of the information back to Earth during the blackout, while other data will be stored for transmission after regular communication is reestablished.