Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Odyssey orbiter nears Martian longevity record

Date:
December 10, 2010
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
By the middle of next week, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter will have worked longer at Mars than any other spacecraft in history. Odyssey made its most famous discovery -- evidence for copious water ice just below the dry surface of Mars -- during its first few months, and it finished its radiation-safety check for future astronauts before the end of its prime mission in 2004. The bonus years of extended missions since then have enabled many accomplishments that would not have been possible otherwise.

In Ares Vallis, teardrop mesas extend like pennants behind impact craters, where the raised rocky rims diverted the floods and protected the ground from erosion.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

By the middle of next week, NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter will have worked longer at Mars than any other spacecraft in history.

Odyssey entered orbit around Mars on Oct. 24, 2001. On Dec. 15, the 3,340th day since that arrival, it will pass the Martian career longevity record set by its predecessor, Mars Global Surveyor, which operated in orbit from Sept. 11, 1997, to Nov. 2, 2006.

Odyssey made its most famous discovery -- evidence for copious water ice just below the dry surface of Mars -- during its first few months, and it finished its radiation-safety check for future astronauts before the end of its prime mission in 2004. The bonus years of extended missions since then have enabled many accomplishments that would not have been possible otherwise.

"The extra years have allowed us to build up the highest-resolution maps covering virtually the entire planet," said Odyssey Project Scientist Jeffrey Plaut of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The maps are assemblages of images from the orbiter's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera, provided and operated by Arizona State University, Tempe. To mark the approach to the Mars longevity record, the camera team and NASA prepared a slide show of remarkable images, posted at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/odyssey/images/all-stars.html .

The orbiter's longevity has given Odyssey scientists the opportunity to monitor seasonal changes on Mars year-to-year, such as the cycle of carbon-dioxide freezing out of the atmosphere in polar regions during each hemisphere's winter. "It is remarkable how consistent the patterns have been from year to year, and that's a comparison that wouldn't have been possible without our mission extensions," Plaut said.

Odyssey's performance has boosted benefits from other missions, too. When NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, far exceeded their own expected lifetimes, Odyssey remained available as the rover's primary communication relay. Nearly all the science data from the rovers and NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has reached Earth via Odyssey relay. Odyssey also became the middle segment of continuous observation of Martian weather by a series of NASA orbiters: Mars Global Surveyor, Odyssey, and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which began its science mission in late 2006.

A continuing partnership between JPL and Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, operates Odyssey.

"Hundreds of people who built the Odyssey spacecraft here, in addition to the much smaller crew operating it today, have great pride in seeing the spacecraft achieve this milestone," said Bob Berry, Odyssey program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company.

Odyssey's science triumphs began in early 2002 with detection of hydrogen just below the surface throughout the planet's high-latitude regions. Deduction that the hydrogen is in frozen water prompted the Phoenix mission, which confirmed that fact in 2008.

Investigators at the University of Arizona, Tucson, have headed the operation of Odyssey's Gamma Ray Spectrometer suite of instruments, which detected the hydrogen and subsequently mapped the distribution of several other elements on Mars. Additional science partners are located at the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, which provided the suite's high-energy neutron detector, and at Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico, which provided the neutron spectrometer.

The mission's science goal of checking radiation levels around Mars to aid planning of future human missions was completed by the Mars Radiation Environment Experiment, developed at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston.

NASA has planned future work for Odyssey, in addition to having the orbiter continue its own science and its relay service for the Mars Exploration Rover mission. If required, controllers will adjust Odyssey's orbit so the spacecraft is in a favorable position for a communication relay role during the August 2012 landing of NASA's next Mars rover, Curiosity.

Mars Odyssey, launched April 7, 2001, is managed by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more about the Mars Odyssey mission, visit: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Odyssey orbiter nears Martian longevity record." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101210114754.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2010, December 10). Odyssey orbiter nears Martian longevity record. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101210114754.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Odyssey orbiter nears Martian longevity record." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101210114754.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Set for Rare Close Shave With Mars

Comet Set for Rare Close Shave With Mars

AFP (Oct. 16, 2014) A fast-moving comet is about to shave by Mars for a once-in-a-million-years encounter that a flurry of spacecraft around the Red Planet hope to capture and photograph, NASA said. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins