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For example, how do the Mars landers communicate when Mars is between them and the Earth? The MRO is in a low orbit; does it store and forward data?

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They don't.

If a satellite is overhead, it can be used to store the data and replay it to earth, but otherwise the channel is broken.

You can find more details if you look at Schiaparelli landing, most articles explained this issue altho I don't have one right now at hand.

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