2001 Mars Odyssey

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2001 Mars Odyssey (or shortly Mars Odyssey ) is a spacecraft of NASA that the since October 24, 2001 Mars orbits and explored it. Your launch took place on April 7, 2001, aboard a Delta II - launcher . The mission was extended again and again after the end of the originally planned duration in 2004, a fixed decommissioning time is not planned (as of February 2017), according to an estimate in 2015 the orbiter will probably still have fuel until 2025. Template: future / in 5 yearsThe orbiter, like the Mars probe MAVEN, serves as a relay station for data transmission between the Rover Curiosity , which landed on August 6, 2012, and the Deep Space Network on Earth.

Graphics: 2001 Mars Odyssey
Crater image from 2001 Mars Odyssey


After arriving on Mars, the first major hurdle for the probe was to reduce its speed with the help of an aerobraking maneuver and thereby enter an orbit around Mars. The probe flew through the uppermost layers of the atmosphere on Mars several times in order to be slowed down by the resulting friction .


The main phase of the mission began in February 2002 and was scheduled to end in August 2004. Since the probe was in very good condition, the mission has been extended four times by two years each, most recently until September 2012. Depending on the planned tasks, the probe will have enough fuel until 2025. Template: future / in 5 yearsThe first time in the history of Mars research will be in The framework of the mission created a global map of the chemical elements on the surface. One focus of the mission is on the search for the occurrence of water ice . In addition, the radiation exposure in low Mars orbits is to be investigated in order to better research the risks of future manned Mars missions .

Water find

The highlight of the Mars Odyssey mission was the detection of large amounts of water ice, particularly in the south pole region of the planet in October 2002. The researchers had previously suspected that the Martian south pole consists almost entirely of so-called dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide ). It is now clear, however, that there are also water ice deposits, some of which are hidden under the layers of dry ice. These findings were confirmed with a different method through the use of the European Mars Express probe in February 2004.

The name

The name of the probe pays homage to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 film : A Space Odyssey . The 758 kg probe was supposed to represent the new beginning in American Mars research after the catastrophes of Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander in 1999. The Mars Odyssey probe also partly has the same mission objectives as the failed Mars Climate Orbiter.


The instruments include a multispectral camera, a radiation detector and a gamma ray spectrometer.

  • THEMIS ( TH ermal EM ission I maging S ystem - heat radiation imaging system): The device is a kind of camera that will photograph Mars in the areas of visible light and infrared radiation. With the help of the images, the distribution of minerals on the surface of Mars will be investigated.
  • GRS ( G amma- R ay S pectrometer - gamma-ray spectrometer): This component should check of 20 different elements of the periodic table on the surface of Mars, the presence. The elements include silicon, iron, magnesium, etc. The GRS neutron detectors are supposed to keep an eye out for hydrogen or water and water ice on the surface and in the uppermost layers of the Martian soil - up to a depth of about one meter. Possible failure of the instrument after changing orbit in 2009.
  • MARIE ( M artian R adiation E xperiment - Martian radiation experiment): In MARIE a spectrometer for charged particles was used to check the atmosphere of Mars radioactive substances. Even during the flight from Earth to Mars, this instrument was used to continuously measure the radiation exposure.

The MARIE instrument failed due to the strong particle bombardment due to the solar storm on October 28, 2003.


  • 2001: Successful launch on April 7, 2001 on a Delta II rocket.
  • 2001: Entry into Mars orbit on October 24, 2001.
  • 2002: Start of measurements in February 2002.
  • 2002: Evidence of large amounts of water ice in October 2002.
  • 2003: Irreparable damage to the MARIE instrument by the strong solar storm on October 28, 2003.
  • 2004: Extension of the mission in August 2004 for a further two years until September 2006.
  • 2006: Extension of the mission period in September 2006 for a further two years until August 2008.
  • 2008: Extension for a further two years until September 2010
  • 2009: Shifting the orbit. The probe now sees the surface at 3:45 p.m. solar time instead of 5:00 p.m. As a result, better analysis of the IR radiation, but possibly overheating of the GRS.
  • 2010: On December 15, the probe breaks the record previously held by Global Surveyor with more than 3340 days in Mars orbit .
  • 2014: On February 11, another shift of the sun-synchronous orbit was initiated. From November 2015, the probe will be positioned above the sunrise line in order to observe possible short-term phenomena during the daily warming period.
  • 2018: On November 26, 2018, Odyssey accompanies the landing of the InSight mission to explore the geology of Mars.


"2001 Mars Odyssey" discovered numerous water deposits at the two Martian poles below the surface. In addition, geological activities on the planet in particular were scrutinized. One of the last important tasks of the probe was the transmission of data from the two exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity of NASA, which landed in January 2004 . The mission is already considered a success.

See also


  1. a b THEMIS makes 60,000 orbits of Red Planet | Mars Odyssey Mission THEMIS .
  2. Spacenews: Odyssey Moved To Relay News of MSL's Landing , July 30, 2012, accessed on September 24, 2013
  3. Newest NASA Mars Orbiter Demonstrates Relay Prowess. NASA , accessed January 2, 2015 .
  4. a b NASA's Mars Odyssey Alter Orbit to Study Warmer Ground
  5. NASA: NASA Mars Spacecraft Gear Up for Extra Work , September 25, 2006
  6. ^ ORF: Mars probe "Odyssey" with a new record , December 16, 2010
  7. http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1602

Web links

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