2001 Mars Odyssey mission summary

R. S. Saunders, R. E. Arvidson, G. D. Badhwar, W. V. Boynton, Philip Christensen, F. A. Cucinotta, W. C. Feldman, R. G. Gibbs, C. Kloss, M. R. Landano, R. A. Mase, G. W. Mcsmith, M. A. Meyer, I. G. Mitrofanov, G. D. Pace, J. J. Plaut, W. P. Sidney, D. A. Spencer, T. W. Thompson, C. J. Zeitlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, now in orbit at Mars, will observe the Martian surface at infrared and visible wavelengths to determine surface mineralogy and morphology, acquire global gamma ray and neutron observations for a full Martian year, and study the Mars radiation environment from orbit. The science objectives of this mission are to: (1) globally map the elemental composition of the surface, (2) determine the abundance of hydrogen in the shallow subsurface, (3) acquire high spatial and spectral resolution images of the surface mineralogy, (4) provide information on the morphology of the surface, and (5) characterize the Martian near-space radiation environment as related to radiation-induced risk to human explorers. To accomplish these objectives, the 2001 Mars Odyssey science payload includes a Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS), a multi-spectral Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), and a radiation detector, the Martian Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE). THEMIS and MARIE are mounted on the spacecraft with THEMIS pointed at nadir. GRS is a suite of three instruments: a Gamma Subsystem (GSS), a Neutron Spectrometer (NS) and a High-Energy Neutron Detector (HEND). The HEND and NS instruments are mounted on the spacecraft body while the GSS is on a 6-m boom. Some science data were collected during the cruise and aerobraking phases of the mission before the prime mission started. THEMIS acquired infrared and visible images of the Earth-Moon system and of the southern hemisphere of Mars. MARIE monitored the radiation environment during cruise. The GRS collected calibration data during cruise and aerobraking. Early GRS observations in Mars orbit indicated a hydrogen-rich layer in the upper meter of the subsurface in the Southern Hemisphere. Also, atmospheric densities, scale heights, temperatures, and pressures were observed by spacecraft accelerometers during aerobraking as the spacecraft skimmed the upper portions of the Martian atmosphere. This provided the first in-situ evidence of winter polar warming in the Mars upper atmosphere. The prime mission for 2001 Mars Odyssey began in February 2002 and will continue until August 2004. During this prime mission, the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft will also provide radio relays for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European landers in early 2004. Science data from 2001 Mars Odyssey instruments will be provided to the science community via NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS). The first PDS release of Odyssey data was in October 2002; subsequent releases occur every 3 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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