Status Report

Mars Odyssey Status Report 19 Feb 2002

By SpaceRef Editor
February 19, 2002
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NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has begun its science
mapping mission. The spacecraft turned its science instruments
toward Mars on Monday, February 18.

Flight controllers report that the thermal emission
imaging system was turned on this morning. The camera system,
which takes both visible and infrared images, will go through
a period of calibration before the first science images are
taken during the next few days. The first images will be
released at a news conference on March 1.

“As with any new camera, it takes a while to get all the
settings right to optimize the picture quality,” said Dr.
Philip Christensen, principal investigator for the thermal
emission imaging system at Arizona State University, Tempe.
“Once we get the system calibrated, there will be a tremendous
flow of image data.”

The gamma ray spectrometer instruments are collecting
data on the composition of the martian surface. The door on
the gamma ray sensor was opened yesterday, allowing the
instrument to cool down to its operating temperature. The
instrument will be fully operational later this week. The
neutron spectrometer and high-energy neutron detector are
collecting data that scientists expect will show the location
of hydrogen on Mars, which may indicate deposits of water ice.

Having passed these milestones, engineers plan to begin
troubleshooting the martian radiation environment experiment
next week. The process of evaluating the status of the
instrument could continue for several weeks. The radiation
experiment stopped communicating and was turned off in August

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, operate the science instruments. Additional
science investigators are located at the Russian Space
Research Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratories, New
Mexico. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, 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.

SpaceRef staff editor.