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J. J. Plaut, R. S. Saunders (Jet Propulsion Laboratory / California Institute of Technology)
The 2001 Mars Odyssey orbital science mission officially began February 19, 2002. The spacecraft carries three science instrument packages: the Gamma Ray Spectrometer suite (GRS), the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), and the Martian Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE). The GRS suite of three instruments includes the Gamma Sensor Head (GSH), the Neutron Spectrometer (NS) and the High Energy Neutron Detector (HEND). THEMIS consists of two cameras sharing a single set of telescopic optics: a 5-band visible imager and a 10-band thermal infrared imager. Spacecraft and instrument performance have been nominal to this point in the science mission. Gamma and neutron observations of the high latitudes have been used to identify water-ice-rich soil to 1 m depth at latitudes poleward of 60 degrees north and south. A focus of THEMIS infrared and visible data acquisition has been the candidate landing sites for the MER 2003 landers. Daytime and nighttime infrared imaging shows a remarkable diversity of temperature signatures of surface materials, suggesting that THEMIS will truly provide a “new view” of Mars. MARIE began operating on March 13, 2002 following recovery from an instrument operation anomaly. The instrument has detected radiation signatures from the high solar activity during the first 5 months of operations. Odyssey’s nominal science mission will extend for 917 days, until August 24 2004. Extended mission operations appear to be feasible, given the current inventory of propellant. In early 2004, the orbiter will serve as a relay platform for the MER landers, and possibly for the Mars Express Beagle2 landers.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.