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2001 Mars Odyssey
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2001 Mars Odyssey
2001 Mars Odyssey Mission to Mars

Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: Delta II 7925
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Fla., USA
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 729.7 kilograms (1,608.7 pounds) total, composed of 331.8-kilogram (731.5-pound) dry spacecraft, 353.4 kilograms (779.1 pounds) of propellant and 44.5 kilograms (98.1 pounds) of science instruments
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) Thermal emission imaging system
2) Gamma ray spectrometer including a neutron spectrometer and the high-energy neutron detector
3) Martian radiation environment experiment
Spacecraft Dimensions: Main structure 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) long, 1.7 meters (5.6 feet) tall and 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) wide; wingspan of solar array 5.7-meter (18.7-feet) tip to tip
Spacecraft Power: Solar Panels
Maximum Power: 750 W
Total Cost: $297 million for primary science mission ($165 million spacecraft development and science instruments; $53 million launch and $79 million mission operations and science processing)
2001 Mars Odyssey Arrival Press Kit, October 2001

Mars Odyssey is an orbiter carrying science experiments designed to make global observations of Mars to improve our understanding of the planet's climate and geologic history, including the search for water and evidence of life-sustaining environments.

One of the chief scientific goals that 2001 Mars Odyssey will focus on is mapping the chemical elements and minerals that make up the Martian surface. As on Earth, the elements, minerals and rocks that form the Martian planet chronicle its history. And while neither elements (the building blocks of minerals) nor minerals (the building blocks of rocks) can convey the entire story of a planet's evolution, both contribute significant pieces to the puzzle. These factors have profound implications for understanding the evolution of Mars' climate and the role of water on the planet, the potential origin and evidence of life, and the possibilities that may exist for future human exploration.

Other major goals of the Odyssey mission are to:

  • Determine the abundance of hydrogen, most likely in the form of water ice, in the shallow subsurface
  • Globally map the elements that make up the surface
  • Acquire high-resolution thermal infrared images of surface minerals
  • Provide information about the structure of the Martian surface
  • Record the radiation environment in low Mars orbit as it relates to radiation-related risk to human exploration

Odyssey also served as a communication relay for landers such as the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

The orbiter carries three science payloads comprised of six individual instruments: a thermal infrared imaging system, made up of visible and infrared sensors; a gamma ray spectrometer, which also contains a neutron spectrometer and high-energy neutron detector; and a radiation environment experiment.

Key Dates
7 Apr 2001:  Launch (15:02 UT)
24 Oct 2001:  Mars Orbit Insertion (02:30 UT)
Status: Extended Mission in Progress
Fast Facts
2001 Mars Odyssey Facts Mars Odyssey traveled 460 million km to get to Mars.

The one-way light time from Mars to Earth on its arrival day was 8 minutes, 30 seconds.

The aerobraking process -- using the Martian atmosphere to slow down -- took three months to put Odyssey in its mapping orbit.

Odyssey's detailed maps (above) helped in the selection landing sites for future Mars missions.
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Last Updated: 3 Oct 2010