MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Mary Hardin (818) 354-0344
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 28, 2000
IT'S "2001 MARS ODYSSEY" FOR NASA'S NEXT TRIP TO THE RED PLANET
As NASA's next spacecraft to the red planet begins a crucial
round of testing in preparations for launch next year, the
mission has been given a new name: 2001 Mars Odyssey.
"The year 2001 has a special significance to many of us who
recall the thrill of reading the book and watching the movie
'2001: A Space Odyssey.' We looked forward to the exciting future
of space exploration that the year 2001 promised," said Scott
Hubbard, Mars Program Director at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.
"NASA's next mission to Mars, launching in the year 2001,
represents the start of a new wave of exploration at the red
planet," said Hubbard. "It seemed fitting to name the mission
2001 Mars Odyssey not only in honor of the story and the movie,
but also to herald the start of our new long-term journey to
Hubbard added that Arthur C. Clarke, author of "2001: A
Space Odyssey," enthusiastically endorsed the new mission name.
The orbiting spacecraft is designed to find out what Mars is
made of, detect water and shallow buried ice and study the
radiation environment. The spacecraft begins thermal vacuum
testing this week at Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver,
Colo., where it was designed and built.
"It's exciting to have a new name for the mission, and going
into the thermal vacuum testing chamber is the next big step for
the spacecraft," said George Pace, project manager for 2001 Mars
Odyssey at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
"We will simulate the full range of temperatures that the
spacecraft will be subjected to during its entire mission, from
the coldest to the warmest."
"We have done several things in response to the NASA review
board recommendations to ensure mission success, like adding
additional staff and transitioning development personnel to
operations. I'm confident we have a solid mission," Pace added.
The orbiter will study the kinds of minerals on the surface
and measure the amount of hydrogen in the shallow subsurfaces of
the planet, which will give scientists clues about the presence
of water, either past or present. It will also provide
information on the structure of the Martian surface and on the
geological processes that may have caused it. Finally, the
orbiter will take all-important measurements of the planet's
radiation environment so potential health risks to future human
explorers can be evaluated. To do this, the spacecraft carries
three science instruments: The Thermal Emission Imaging System
(THEMIS), the Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS), and the Mars
Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE).
2001 Mars Odyssey is scheduled for launch on April 7, 2001,
on a Delta II launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, FL. The space explorer is scheduled to arrive at Mars in
In August, NASA announced plans to launch twin rovers which
will land on Mars in 2003, and later this fall, will announce
details of the multi-year Mars exploration program plan.
The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space
Science, Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver,
Colo., is JPL's industrial partner. JPL is a division of the
California Institute of Technology.