THOR Fact Sheet (PDF)

THOR's mission

The THOR flight plan calls for launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 26, 2011. After a 10-month cruise, THOR arrives at Mars on September 6, 2012.

Using proven navigation techniques, THOR will target two high-velocity impactors to scientifically selected sites in the mid-latitudes. The impactors are released 8 and 6 days before arrival. They will hit the surface at 1:30 p.m. local time, moving at 5.3 kilometers (3.3 miles) per second.

Following impactor release, THOR will use its propulsion system to slow the spacecraft relative to the impactors and establish the viewing geometry for impact. THOR will observe the impacts and follow the development of the craters for two hours. Then THOR will fire its engine to enter Mars orbit.

Once in orbit, THOR will continue to monitor the evolution of both craters for as long as they continue to emit vapor.

About a week after arrival, atmospheric observations begin and continue until the end of the primary science mission.

During the mission's lifetime, THOR will also provide a telecommunications relay with Earth, extending the science return from future Mars rovers and landers.