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Topic: NASA’s Mars Odyssey Orbiter

NASA’s Mars Odyssey Orbiter has been Mapping the Red Planet for 20 Years

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft launched 20 years ago on April 7th, 2021 making it the oldest spacecraft still working at the Red Planet.

The orbiter, which takes its name from Arthur C. Clarke’s classic sci-fi novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Clarke blessed its use before launch), was sent to map the composition of the Martian surface, providing a window to the past so scientists could piece together how the planet evolved.

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars' south pole in this artist's concept. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since October 24th, 2001. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars’ south pole in this artist’s concept. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since October 24th, 2001. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover takes it’s first Drive on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover performed its first drive on Mars on March 4th, covering 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) across the Martian landscape.

The drive served as a mobility test that marks just one of many milestones as team members check out and calibrate every system, subsystem, and instrument on Perseverance. Once the rover begins pursuing its science goals, regular commutes extending 656 feet (200 meters) or more are expected.

This image was taken during the first drive of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars on March 4th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image was taken during the first drive of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars on March 4th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA creates maps of Mars showing where near surface ice might be

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – So you want to build a Mars base. Where to start? Like any human settlement, it would be best located near accessible water. Not only will water be crucial for life-support supplies, it will be used for everything from agriculture to producing the rocket propellant astronauts will need to return to Earth.

Schlepping all that water to Mars would be costly and risky. That’s why NASA has engaged scientists and engineers since 2015 to identify deposits of Martian water ice that could be within reach of astronauts on the planet’s surface.

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. (NASA)

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. (NASA)

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NASA’s Odyssey orbiter captures Three New Photos of Mar’s Moon Phobos

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Three new views of the Martian moon Phobos have been captured by NASA’s Odyssey orbiter. Taken this past winter and this spring, they capture the moon as it drifts into and out of Mars’ shadow.

The orbiter’s infrared camera, the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), has been used to measure temperature variations across the surface of Phobos that provide insight into the composition and physical properties of the moon. Further study could help settle a debate over whether Phobos, which is about 16 miles (25 kilometers) across, is a captured asteroid or an ancient chunk of Mars that was blasted off the surface by an impact.

Six views of the Martian moon Phobos captured by NASA's Odyssey orbiter as of March 2020. The orbiter's THEMIS camera is used to measure temperature variations that suggest what kind of material the moon is made of. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/NAU)

Six views of the Martian moon Phobos captured by NASA’s Odyssey orbiter as of March 2020. The orbiter’s THEMIS camera is used to measure temperature variations that suggest what kind of material the moon is made of. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/NAU)

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NASA maps Water Ice locations on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land?

A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.

Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what’s already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel.

The area of Mars in this illustration holds near-surface water ice that would be easily accessible for astronauts to dig up. The water ice was identified as part of a map using data from NASA orbiters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The area of Mars in this illustration holds near-surface water ice that would be easily accessible for astronauts to dig up. The water ice was identified as part of a map using data from NASA orbiters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA explains Mars Solar Conjunction, Why Does It Matter?

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The daily chatter between antennas here on Earth and those on NASA spacecraft at Mars is about to get much quieter for a few weeks.

That’s because Mars and Earth will be on opposite sides of the Sun, a period known as Mars solar conjunction. The Sun expels hot, ionized gas from its corona, which extends far into space. During solar conjunction, this gas can interfere with radio signals when engineers try to communicate with spacecraft at Mars, corrupting commands and resulting in unexpected behavior from our deep space explorers.

This animation illustrates Mars solar conjunction, a period when Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. During this time, the Sun can interrupt radio transmissions to spacecraft on and around the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This animation illustrates Mars solar conjunction, a period when Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. During this time, the Sun can interrupt radio transmissions to spacecraft on and around the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter finishes 60,000 trips around Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter completed 60,000 loops around the Red Planet at 10:39am PDT (12:39 pm CDT) on Wednesday morning, May 15th, 2019. On average, MRO takes 112 minutes to circle Mars, whipping around at about 2 miles per second (3.4 kilometers per second).

Since entering orbit on March 10th, 2006, the spacecraft has been collecting daily science about the planet’s surface and atmosphere, including detailed views with its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (HiRISE). HiRISE is powerful enough to see surface features the size of a dining room table from 186 miles (300 kilometers) above the surface.

This still from an animation shows NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter soaring over Mars. The spacecraft has been in Mars orbit for 13 years, and just completed 60,000 trips around the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This still from an animation shows NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter soaring over Mars. The spacecraft has been in Mars orbit for 13 years, and just completed 60,000 trips around the planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter takes photos of Mars’ moon Phobos at full moon

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has captured Mar’s moon Phobos during a full moon phase for the first time. Each color in this new image represents a temperature range detected by Odyssey’s infrared camera, which has been studying the Martian moon since September of 2017.

Looking like a rainbow-colored jawbreaker, these latest observations could help scientists understand what materials make up Phobos, the larger of Mars’ two moons.

These three views of the Martian moon Phobos were taken by NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter using its infrared camera, THEMIS. Each color represents a different temperature range. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/SSI)

These three views of the Martian moon Phobos were taken by NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter using its infrared camera, THEMIS. Each color represents a different temperature range. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/SSI)

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NASA InSight Lander extends Solar Panels, Recharges Batteries on Mars

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight has sent signals to Earth indicating that its solar panels are open and collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed the signals, which were received on Earth at about 5:30pm PST (7:30pm CST). Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing InSight’s landing site.

“The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries,” said Tom Hoffman, InSight’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the mission.

The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA's InSight lander, took this picture of the Martian surface on Nov. 26, 2018, the same day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet. The camera's transparent dust cover is still on in this image, to prevent particulates kicked up during landing from settling on the camera's lens. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA’s InSight lander, took this picture of the Martian surface on Nov. 26, 2018, the same day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet. The camera’s transparent dust cover is still on in this image, to prevent particulates kicked up during landing from settling on the camera’s lens. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA InSight Lander touches down on Mars

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Mars has just received its newest robotic resident. NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander successfully touched down on the Red Planet after an almost seven-month, 300-million-mile (458-million-kilometer) journey from Earth.

InSight’s two-year mission will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon, formed.

Tom Hoffman, InSight Project Manager, NASA JPL, left, and Sue Smrekar, InSight deputy principal investigator, NASA JPL, react after receiving confirmation that the Mars InSight lander successfully touched down on the surface of Mars, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 inside the Mission Support Area at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Tom Hoffman, InSight Project Manager, NASA JPL, left, and Sue Smrekar, InSight deputy principal investigator, NASA JPL, react after receiving confirmation that the Mars InSight lander successfully touched down on the surface of Mars, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 inside the Mission Support Area at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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