In April, red planet Mars and our beloved living ground the Earth will be exactly at the opposite sides of the Sun. NASA has confirmed that due to such alignment of the planets next month, neither mission controllers from the Earth nor the agency’s various Mars spacecraft from space will be able to communicate with each other for few days.
Solar conjunction occurs when a planet or other solar system object is on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth. From an Earth reference, the Sun will pass between the Earth and the object. However, every 26 months or so, Mars and Earth take place at the opposite sides of the Sun from each other. This is called .
During Mars solar conjunction, the Sun interrupts radio transmissions between EarMars solar conjunctionth and the Mars rovers and orbiters. Therefore, mission controllers from the Earth will be unable to send Mars rovers and orbiters any data properly. On the other side, Mars rovers and orbiters will be unable to send any data and signal to Earth due to lack of continuous radio transmissions.
This year during the Mars solar conjunction, Mars will pass the Sun at an angle of only 0.4 degrees on April 17, as viewed from Earth (you need solar telescope to see that). That means Mars will not be blocked totally. However, as Mars solar conjunction is going to happen for sure, so Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California has decided to suspend transmissions to the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey from April 9 to 26. But Odyssey will continue observations and send signals back to Earth.
Besides, Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity will not get any commands between April 9 and 26. But during the blackout, Curiosity will send status signals back to Earth to reassure mission control of its readiness.
Here is a video below explaining how NASA is going handle the Mars solar conjunction.