findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are
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reflect those of the National Science Foundation.
To MARS with MER - MARS the Planet
The Red Planet
Latest spacecraft to successfully orbit Mars is NASA's Mars 2001 Odyssey mission. Built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin, it took a huge jet to fly it to Cape Canaveral for a successful launch on April 7, 2001. NASA put cameras on board the rocket, so for the first time we had a fabulous view as Odyssey began its long journey.
Odyssey arrived at Mars in late October, 2001. Then it'll slowly lowered itself down into a mapping orbit and its 3 instruments began to return data. For the first time we're accumulating a global map showing the chemistry of the Red Planet. The THEMIS instrument - like a very fancy pair of night vision goggles - is imaging the surface looking for clues of ancient or more recent water - and is helping to select landing sites for future missions, such as NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project. A detector called MARIE is measuring how much radiation exists, getting ready for the day when Earth is ready to send the first human mission to Mars.
For all the latest on Mars Odyssey, check out the mission's home page at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. And to go behind the scenes with the men and women who built and now operate Odyssey, check out RESEARCH/ers.