2001 Mars Odyssey Successfully Arrives At Mars, Now In Orbit And Ready To Begin Science Mission
DENVER, CO, 23-OCT-01 -- The 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, designed and built by Lockheed Martin for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was successfully placed in orbit around Mars this evening at 8:26 p.m. MT. The 2001 Mars Odyssey joins the Mars Global Surveyor, already in an extended phase of its mission, to map the composition of the planet's surface, search for signs of water and learn more about the planet's climate. The spacecraft's flight and operations in space are controlled by teams at JPL in Pasadena, Calif., and Lockheed Martin Space Systems - Astronautics Operations near Denver, Colo. We are extremely proud to be on the Mars exploration team with NASA and JPL, said G. Thomas Marsh, president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Space Systems - Astronautics Operations. We are very pleased with how well the spacecraft performed this evening and how it has performed throughout its entire flight. Once the team acquired the signal after the spacecraft reappeared from behind Mars, we all felt a tremendous sense of elation knowing that the spacecraft performed those maneuvers flawlessly. NASA and JPL now have another healthy satellite in orbit around Mars.
Final commands were sent to the spacecraft Oct. 15, to ready it for orbit insertion. As the spacecraft approached Mars, it performed a 20-minute engine burn to slow down the spacecraft, placing it into an initial elliptical polar orbit around Mars at approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) above the planet's surface.
Over the next few months, commands will be sent to the spacecraft daily to gradually tighten the spacecraft's orbit around Mars by using the atmosphere to slow it down, a technique known as aerobraking, ultimately placing it in a 400-kilometer (248 mile) circular polar orbit. The Odyssey will begin detailed mapping of the planet's surface in February 2002, sending those images back to Earth.
The spacecraft is controlled by a very experienced team of people here at Lockheed Martin's Mission Support Area (MSA) near Denver with a great team at JPL in Pasadena. The flight and navigation teams have worked hand in hand, and it has been a smooth mission so far, said Jim Neuman, director of Lockheed Martin's MSA. The commands for each maneuver are transmitted ahead of time from the MSA to the Odyssey and the spacecraft has performed very well. The team currently operates four NASA spacecraft in space: the Mars Global Surveyor, Stardust, Genesis and the 2001 Mars Odyssey.
From the day the spacecraft launched April 7, 2001, the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter has sped toward Mars on a journey lasting 6 1/2 months, logging more than 286 million miles to its final destination. Following checkout of flight operations and instrumentation, the spacecraft will begin its mission to collect data that will be used to analyze the global elemental composition of the planet, search for evidence of ancient hot springs and mineral deposits, survey the radiation environment and provide a communications link with future spacecraft that land on Mars.
The Odyssey carries three science instruments: the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS); the Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS); and the Martian Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE). THEMIS will map the mineralogy and morphology of the Martian surface using a camera and thermal infrared imaging spectrometer. The GRS will achieve global mapping of the elemental composition of the surface and determine the abundance of hydrogen atoms - most likely contained in water ice - in the shallow subsurface. The MARIE will characterize aspects of the near-space radiation environment as related to the radiation-related risk to human explorers who may visit Mars in the future.
By means of orbiters, landers, rovers and missions to return samples of Martian soil and rocks to Earth, NASA is prepared to unravel the secrets of Mars' past environments, the history of its rocks, the many roles of water and, possibly, evidence of past or present life. In addition to the 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter, NASA plans to launch twin Mars Exploration Rovers in 2003. Lockheed Martin also is JPL's industrial partner for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, scheduled to launch in 2005.
Lockheed Martin has been an industry partner with NASA and the JPL for more than three decades on many interplanetary missions that have ushered in a new and exciting era in the scientific study of our universe and more specifically Mars. Beginning in 1971 with the Atlas/Centaur launch of Mariner 9 as well as the Viking missions in 1975, Lockheed Martin has been at the forefront in the development of spacecraft used to explore Mars.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, Colo., is one of the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a variety of advanced technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include a full-range of space launch systems, ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.