Mars Odyssey reaches the red planet and is captured
by its gravity into an egg-shaped elliptical orbit around the planet.
Its mission is to orbit Mars and determine the composition of the
Martian surface, to detect water and shallow buried ice, and to
study the radiation environment.
In the weeks and months ahead, the spacecraft
repeatedly brushes against the top of the martian atmosphere in
a process called aerobraking. By using atmospheric drag on the spacecraft,
flight controllers will reduce the long, highly elliptical orbit
into a shorter, 2-hour circular orbit of approximately 400 kilometers
(about 250 miles) altitude for the mission's science data collection.
See also: Odyssey