What is the current maximum bandwidth between Mars and Earth (at their closest), accounting for any satellite/prober/orbiter that is either at Mars or already launched and en route?

So far I've found that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can achieve up to 6 Megabits/second, but I haven't been able to find capabilities of newer missions such as the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission or the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 54.6 million kilometers. The farthest apart they can be is about 401 million km. I think that makes a lot of difference. Can you edit and better define current? $\endgroup$
    – user10509
    Oct 4, 2016 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ What is average speed on a good day? What range ISRO MOM fall in that to its neighbour? $\endgroup$
    – Isrorian
    Oct 4, 2016 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDoggen, in this case current is in reference to currently launched technology as opposed to under-development/theoretical technology. I added '(at their closet)' to resolve the ambiguity around distance. $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2016 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ The 6 Megabits per second are achieved over a distance of 100 million kilometers. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Oct 24, 2016 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ Given that transmit power decreases with the square of the distance, it seems we could vastly increase data rates by adding some communications relay satellites between the orbit of Earth and Mars. $\endgroup$
    – user4574
    Jul 24, 2022 at 1:43

2 Answers 2


There are 8 active Mars missions at the time of writing (11/14/17)

  1. Mars Odyssey
  1. Mars Express

  2. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

  1. Opportunity
  1. Mars Orbiter Mission

  2. MAVEN

  1. ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

  2. Curiosity

This is all the information that I could find on these missions, based on this the winner is the MRO at 5.22 Mbps, this makes sense as it's main mission is taking high-resolution images.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Really excellent answer! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 15, 2017 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to see the performance of uplink too. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Mar 14, 2018 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ @ Mark Omo. I've proposed an edit for a new link to the Curiosity rover to make your answer even more valuable ! $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Mar 26, 2018 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Conelisinspace Thanks! I went ahead and extracted the downlink information $\endgroup$
    – Mark Omo
    Mar 26, 2018 at 17:47

Contractors have quoted me surprising figures for their communication systems. One vendor is offering Mars-capable hardware, and claiming a downlink of many megabits. I questioned whether they were serious numbers, or marketing. The sales rep didn’t reveal the company’s secret sauce, nor did I press any further.

I seriously doubted they’ve gone to optical comm (but neither can I rule it out). Assuming that they are, in fact, still offering an RF product, the physical layer is limited by the DSN. So they must be offering some state-of-the-art encoding or modulation or whatever, after the physical layer.

Also note that, as of early-2022, this vendor’s hardware has not actually reached Mars (as far as I know).


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