March 28, 2020

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Happy Birthday Mars Odyssey!

Mars Odyssey as seen from Mars Global Surveyor in 2005.

Credit: NASA

An often overlooked but crucial mission celebrates its 13th full year in space today. On April 7th, 2001, a Delta II rocket lifted off into the late Florida morning from Cape Canaveral carrying the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Mars Odyssey was designed to study Mars from orbit and reached the Red Planet on October 24th of the same year.

Since that date, Mars Odyssey has gone on to become a crucial asset orbiting Mars, and the oldest spacecraft in orbit about any planet in the solar system still in service at 13 years and counting. Two other spacecraft in orbit around Mars are still in operation: ESA’s Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  They will be joined by India’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft later this year.

To light this birthday candle, we thought it would be fun to watch and re-live the departure of Mars Odyssey from Earth as seen from its very own perspective:

Mars Odyssey has been on hand to support the Mars Phoenix lander and the Spirit rover and continues to support the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers in their adventures on the surface of the Red Planet.

And all this continues to occur using turn of the century technology. Mars Odyssey was built in an age prior to smart phones, CubeSats, and Facebook. Think about it: what was sitting on your desktop in 2001?

Mars Odyssey continues to perform from its polar orbit vantage point, supporting crucial missions traversing a planet that cries out for exploration.

Happy Birthday, Mars Odyssey!



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