ENP Newswire -
Release date- 13022014 - Odyssey team engineers at
The desired change will occur gradually until the intended orbit geometry is reached in
The change will enable observation of changing ground temperatures after sunrise and after sunset in thousands of places on Mars. Those observations could yield insight about the composition of the ground and about temperature-driven processes, such as warm-season flows observed on some slopes, and geysers fed by spring thawing of carbon-dioxide ice near Mars' poles.
'We're teaching an old spacecraft new tricks,' said Odyssey Project Scientist
Neither Odyssey, nor any other NASA Mars orbiter since the 1970s, has flown an orbital pattern with a view of the ground in morning daylight. Earlier
Odyssey was launched in 2001 and began its science mission 12 years ago this month. It is the longest-working spacecraft ever sent to Mars.
Odyssey completed Tuesday's maneuver at
'This veteran spacecraft performed exactly as planned,' said
Odyssey flies in an orbit nearly over the poles and synchronized with the sun. For most of its first six years at Mars, the orbit was set at about 5 o'clock, local solar time. At every spot Odyssey flew over as it made its dozen daily passes from the
That orbit provided an advantage for the orbiter's Gamma Ray Spectrometer to have its cooling equipment pointed away from the sun. The spectrometer checked for evidence of water near the Martian surface. It made important discoveries of how widely water ice-detected as hydrogen-and other elements are distributed on Mars.
Later, Odyssey worked for three years in a 4 o'clock orbit. That provided an advantage for mineral mapping by the orbiter's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS). Mid-afternoon warmth made minerals' infrared signatures easier to identify.
This timing, however, added stress to Odyssey's power system. It put more of each orbit into the planet's shadow, where solar panels are unproductive. After providing radio-relay support for the 2012 landing of
THEMIS Principal Investigator
'We don't know exactly what we're going to find when we get to an orbit where we see the morning just after sunrise,' Christensen said. 'We can look for seasonal differences. Are fogs more common in winter or spring We will look systematically. We will observe clouds in visible light and check the temperature of the ground in infrared.'
After the next orbit-adjustment maneuver, to lock into the
JPL manages Odyssey for
For more about the Mars Odyssey mission, visit: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey
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