Status Report

Mars Odyssey Mission Status – 27 Dec 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
December 27, 2001
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Flight controllers of NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey mission
report that the aerobraking phase is proceeding right on
schedule and should be completed in early January. During the
aerobraking phase of the mission, the spacecraft is controlled
so it skims the upper reaches of the martian atmosphere on
each orbit, to reduce the vehicle’s speed.

Today, Odyssey’s orbital period is three hours and 15
minutes, compared with the initial 18-and-a-half hours when
the spacecraft first entered orbit in October. The orbital
period is the time required to complete one revolution around
the planet.

“We plan to perform a maneuver to raise the spacecraft
up out of the atmosphere in early January. After that it will
take about a month for us to circularize the orbit using our
onboard thrusters and then prepare to start the science
mission,” said David A. Spencer, Odyssey’s mission manager at
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The
primary two-and-a-half year science mission is scheduled to
begin in February.

The high energy neutron detector provided by Russia’s
Space Institute has operated throughout much of the
aerobraking phase and has completed its calibration in
preparation for the science mission. The instrument is part
of the gamma ray spectrometer payload suite, designed to map
the elemental composition of the martian surface. Among its
many science objectives, Odyssey will attempt to determine the
amount and location of any near-surface water on Mars, if it

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., is providing aerobraking support to
JPL’s navigation team during mission operations.

SpaceRef staff editor.