Veteran NASA Spacecraft Nears 60,000th Lap Around Mars, No Pit Stops

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Gale Crater, home to NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, shows a new face in this picture done regulating information from a THEMIS camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. The colors come from an picture estimate process that identifies vegetable differences in aspect materials and displays them in fake colors. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University

Gale Crater, home to NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, shows a new face in this picture done regulating information from a THEMIS camera on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter. The colors come from an picture estimate process that identifies vegetable differences in aspect materials and displays them in fake colors.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University

NASA’s Mars Odyssey booster will strech a vital miracle Jun 23, when it completes a 60,000th circuit given nearing during a Red Planet in 2001.

Named after a bestselling novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, Odyssey began orbiting Mars roughly 14 years ago, on Oct. 23, 2001. On Dec. 15, 2010, it became a longest-operating booster ever sent to Mars, and continues to reason that record today.

Odyssey, that rescued widespread H2O ice only underneath a aspect of a Red Planet, is still going clever today, apportionment as a pivotal communications send for NASA’s Mars rovers and creation continued contributions to heavenly science.

“This orbital miracle is an event to applaud Odyssey’s many achievements,” pronounced Jim Green, NASA’s executive of Planetary Science. “Odyssey will continue to assistance lay a substructure for a initial humans to Mars in a 2030s by NASA’s Journey to Mars initiative.”

Odyssey’s orbital miracle translates into about 888 million miles (1.43 billion kilometers) traversed by a spacecraft. In further to a 286 million miles (460 million kilometers) lonesome on a outing from Earth to Mars, a booster is a high-mileage car like no other, though stays in excellent condition.

“The booster is in good health, with all subsystems organic and with adequate diesel for about 10 some-more years,” pronounced David Lehman, plan manager for a Mars Odyssey during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Odyssey’s vital discoveries began in a early months of a two-year primary mission, with gamma-ray and proton measurements that indicated abundant H2O ice only underneath a aspect during high latitudes on Mars. The spacecraft’s suddenly prolonged use has enabled achievements such as execution of a highest-resolution tellurian map of Mars and regard of anniversary and year-to-year changes, such as frozen and thawing of CO dioxide.

Through a many accomplishments, a booster also has aided NASA’s preparations for tellurian missions to Mars by monitoring deviation in a sourroundings around a world around a Mars Radiation Environment Experiment, grown during NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Odyssey now is completing an composition to an circuit that will position it to pass over Martian turf illuminated by early-morning object rather than afternoon light. In a stream orbit, a booster always flies nearby any stick and along what is called a terminator. The terminator is a relocating “line” that encircles Mars and passes by any indicate on a planet’s aspect during morning and again during sunset, separating a apportionment of Mars illuminated by a object from a apportionment experiencing darkness, dividing day and night. The position of this line varies by time of day and time of year.

“Upcoming observations will concentration on what is function in a Martian atmosphere in a morning, such as clouds, hazes and fogs, and on frosts on a aspect that bake off by after in a day,” pronounced Jeffrey Plaut, Odyssey plan scientist during JPL.

The designed deposit to a morning-daylight circuit began in 2012, was accelerated in 2014, and will be finished with a scheme in Nov to close in a circuit timing so that any pass over a equator occurs during a same time of day.

“We have achieved many circuit maneuvers over a prolonged life of this mission, and we will use that knowledge conducting a one to hindrance a drift,” pronounced Steve Sanders, Odyssey booster operative during Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver.

To date, Odyssey’s Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) has yielded 208,240 images in visible-light wavelengths and 188,760 in thermal infrared wavelengths. THEMIS images are a basement for minute tellurian maps and marker of some aspect materials, such as chloride salt deposits and silica-rich terrain. The infrared imaging also indicates how fast regions of a aspect cold during night or comfortable in sunlight, revelation researchers how dry or hilly a belligerent is.

Odyssey’s three-instrument Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS) apartment rescued poignant volume of hydrogen on a world — interpreted as H2O ice dark underneath a surface. This find stirred NASA to send a Phoenix Mars Lander to an arctic plain on Mars in 2008, where it examined a H2O ice rescued by Odyssey. The spectrometer apartment also mapped tellurian placement of pivotal chemical elements, such as iron and potassium. The University of Arizona, Tucson, headed a development. Two GRS instruments are still active: a high-energy proton detector from a Russian Space Research Institute and a proton spectrometer from Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico.

As a communications send for NASA’s Mars rovers, Odyssey has transmitted to Earth some-more than 90 percent of a information perceived from a Opportunity rover. Future skeleton for Odyssey embody send avocation for NASA and European Space Agency landers nearing on Mars in 2016.

Odyssey launched on Apr 7, 2001 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. JPL manages a Mars Odyssey Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin built a booster and collaborates with JPL in goal operations. Arizona State University, Tempe, supposing and operates THEMIS.

Source: NASA