Status Report

Mars Odyssey Mission Status 24 Oct 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
October 24, 2001
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Flight controllers for NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey mission
report the spacecraft is in excellent health and is in a
looping orbit around Mars of 18 hours and 36 minutes.

“Odyssey flawlessly achieved last night’s one-time
critical event of Mars orbit insertion. Hundreds and hundreds
of things had to go right, and they did,” said Matt Landano,
Mars Odyssey project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory. “We are all excited about our success and I am
proud of all the members of our team.”

The navigation proved to be equally precise. “We were
aiming for a point 300 kilometers (186.5 miles) above Mars and
we hit that point within one kilometer (.6 miles),” reports
Bob Mase, the Mars Odyssey lead navigator at JPL. “Because of
the excellent main engine burn, we will not need to do any
more maneuvers to adjust the orbit before we begin aerobraking
on Friday.”

In the weeks and months ahead, the spacecraft will be
literally surfing the waves of the martian atmosphere, in a
process called aerobraking, which will reduce the long
elliptical orbit into a shorter, 2-hour circular orbit of
approximately 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) altitude.

This morning, the team turned on the electronics for the
gamma ray spectrometer subsystem and began taking data with
the high-energy neutron detector and the neutron spectrometer
instruments. These detectors may help scientists locate water
near the surface of Mars, if it exists.

On Sunday, Oct. 28, scientists will take the first
picture with the thermal emission imaging system. That image
is expected to be a wide-angle view of the southern hemisphere
taken when Odyssey is farthest away from Mars. The primary
science mission will begin in January 2002.

JPL manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA’s
Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Principal
investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe, the
University of Arizona in Tucson, and NASA’s Johnson Space
Center, Houston, Texas, operate the science instruments.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, Colo., is the prime
contractor for the project, and developed and built the
orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from
Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California
Institute of Technology in Pasadena. NASA’s Langley Research
Center in Hampton, Va., will provide aerobraking support to
JPL’s navigation team during mission operations.

SpaceRef staff editor.