U.S. Water News Online
PASADENA, Calif. -- The 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft has
greatly tightened its orbit around the Red Planet by skimming the
upper atmosphere and the spacecraft should begin 2 1/2 years of
scientific observations in February, NASA said.
The process, called aerobraking, has reduced the time it takes
Odyssey to complete each orbit from the initial 18 1/2 hours when it
reached Mars in October to three hours and 15 minutes now.
Aerobraking should be completed on schedule and then thrusters
will be used to circularize the orbit over about a month's time, said
David A. Spencer, Odyssey mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion
The spacecraft carries instruments that will, among other
pursuits, look for water near the surface of the planet.
Odyssey was launched April 7 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and
reached Mars on Oct. 23.
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