Illustration of of Mars Odyssey

NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft is in excellent health as engineers continue to check out and evaluate the performance of its systems and science instruments during its early cruise phase.

Friday morning, June 15, flight controllers successfully conducted a visible imaging calibration test of the thermal emission imaging system by pointing the instrument at a star, Menkent, and taking several pictures. Those data were transmitted to Earth during the weekend. Also last week, engineers began a process of heating the gamma ray spectrometer detector in order to erase radiation damage that has naturally occurred to the detector thus far during cruise. The detector will then be in an optimal state to collect science data once the gamma sensor head door is opened later this month.

Earlier this month, engineers successfully tested the UHF radio system by sending and receiving data via the 46-meter UHF antenna at Stanford University in California. The team is continuing to review the data from those tests and plans to conduct additional tests this week.

The Deep Space Network has taken several measurements using the delta differential one-way range measurement, a technique that uses two ground stations to determine the angular position of the spacecraft relative to the known position of a quasar. The measurements provide the navigation team with an additional source of information, adding confidence to their estimates of the Odyssey flight path.

Currently, Odyssey is 26.6 million kilometers (16.5 million miles) from Earth, traveling at a speed of 27.6 kilometers per second (about 61,900 miles per hour) relative to the Sun.

The Mars Odyssey mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The Odyssey spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver. The thermal emission imaging system is provided by Arizona State University, the gamma ray spectrometer is provided by the University of Arizona.


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