March 13, 2014

The Odyssey spacecraft was launched toward Mars on April 7, 2001 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. In this four-part video series, Odyssey navigation team members explain the daily challenges of steering a spacecraft 93 million miles from Earth to Mars. The first episode describes the intense aerobraking phase, which begins two days after the spacecraft arrives at Mars (Mars Orbit Insertion, October 24, 2001). From then on, navigation team members still have three months of difficult maneuvering to do in order to slow the spacecraft down and bring Odyssey into its circular science mapping orbit. Using atmospheric drag to "aerobrake," the spacecraft dips into the Martian atmosphere once every time the spacecraft swings by its closest approach to Mars. Future episodes discuss the hostile conditions the spacecraft encounters on its journey to Mars, the challenges of communicating with a distant spacecraft, and the upcoming critical event: Mars Orbit Insertion.

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