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2001 Mars Odyssey
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Odyssey Mission Overview

Odyssey Mission Overview 

Odyssey arrived at the red planet in 2001. Its mission: to detect water and shallow buried ice, and study the radiation environment.
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Mapping Water Abundance on Mars

Mapping Water Abundance on Mars 

Odyssey found evidence of water and mapped its abundance around the planet. It found the upper meter of the Martian surface has enough water to fill Lake Michigan twice! The ground is more than 50% water by weight (75% by volume), meaning it is dirty ice more than icy dirt. What do you think these discoveries might mean in terms of Mars as a habitat?
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Odyssey Maps Minerals Too!

Odyssey Maps Minerals Too! 

Odyssey also found evidence of the mineral hematite, which often forms in water.That discovery led directly to choosing a landing site for Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity."
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Odyssey Makes Best Map of Mars Ever!

Odyssey Makes Best Map of Mars Ever! 

Odyssey yields the most accurate Mars map ever! Pictured here is Valles Marineris, the "Grand Canyon of Mars," which sprawls wide enough to reach from LA to NY City.
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Odyssey Maps Radiation Levels

Odyssey Maps Radiation Levels 

Odyssey also tracks the radiation levels on Mars. This information will help future human explorers.
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Odyssey Lives Long and Prospers

Odyssey Lives Long and Prospers 

Mars Odyssey, is the longest-serving spacecraft at the Red Planet.
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Odyssey Relays Information Home

Odyssey Relays Information Home 

Odyssey has served as an important communications link between Mars and Earth for the Exploration Rovers and Phoenix Lander. Odyssey will also relay information from the Curiosity rover.
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Helpful Mission Overview Resources

Odyssey Fact Sheets

Odyssey Press Kits

Key Dates:

Launch: April 7, 2001

Arrival: October 24, 2001

End of Mission: Ongoing

2001 Mars Odyssey is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The opportunity to go to Mars comes around every 26 months, when the alignment of Earth and Mars in their orbits around the sun allows spacecraft to travel between the two planets with the least amount of energy.

The 2001 Mars Odyssey mission is NASA's longest-lasting spacecraft at Mars. The spacecraft launched on April 7, 2001, and arrived at Mars on October 24, 2001, 0230 Universal Time (October 23, 7:30 pm PDT/ 10:30 EDT). Its mission includes making the first global map of the amount and distribution of many chemical elements and minerals that make up the Martian surface. It successfully completed its primary science mission from February 2002 through August 2004. The orbiter's extended operations continue today.

NASA's Odyssey to Mars

The name "2001 Mars Odyssey" was selected as a tribute to the vision and spirit of space exploration as embodied in the works of renowned science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. Evocative of one of his most celebrated works, the name speaks to our hopes for the future and of the fundamental human desire to explore the unknown despite great dangers, the risk of failure and the daunting, enormous depths of space.

2001 Mars Odyssey Results

For the first time, the mission globally mapped the amount and distribution of many chemical elements and minerals that make up the martian surface.

Maps of hydrogen distribution led scientists to discover vast amounts of water ice in the polar regions buried just beneath the surface.

Odyssey also recorded the radiation environment in low Mars orbit to determine the radiation-related risk to any future human explorers who may one day go to Mars. All of these objectives support the four science goals of the Mars Exploration Program.

2001 Mars Odyssey Instruments

The three primary instruments carried by 2001 Mars Odyssey are:

  • GRS (Gamma Ray Spectrometer), for determining the presence of 20 chemical elements on the surface of Mars, including hydrogen in the shallow subsurface (which acts as a proxy for determining the amount and distribution of possible water ice on the planet); and,

Providing Telecommunications Support to Other Mars Missions

The Odyssey orbiter is a communications relay for rovers and landers on Mars including the Mars Exploration Rovers "Spirit" and "Opportunity," the Mars Phoenix lander and the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover. Images and other measurements from Mars Odyssey help identify potential landing sites for rovers and landers.