Mars Odyssey Mission Status
February 06, 2002
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft deployed its high-gain
communications antenna last night, marking a major technical
milestone prior to the beginning of the science mapping mission.
At 7:29 p.m. Pacific Time, Tuesday, Feb. 5, mission controllers
monitored changes in the radio signal from Odyssey, indicating that
the release and deployment of the antenna boom were proceeding
as planned. The antenna boom was deployed to its latched position
with a motor-driven hinge and locked into place as expected. The
antenna's position is controlled with a two-axis gimbal assembly that
allows the spacecraft to communicate with Earth while the science
instruments are simultaneously collecting data of Mars. Overnight,
flight controllers checked out the gimbals, which allow the antenna
to be pointed in a variety of positions to track Earth.
"Successful deployment of the high gain antenna paves
the way for Odyssey to achieve the real payoff of the mission, the
science data return," said David A. Spencer, Odyssey's mission
manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
The science instruments are expected to begin collecting data
later this month. Flight controllers first need to test the mapping
orientation of the spacecraft, in which the instruments are pointed
at Mars while the antenna tracks Earth.
The high-gain antenna is 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) in diameter, with
a parabolic shape. The antenna can transmit at data rates as high
as 110 thousand bits per second.
JPL manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office
of Space Science, Washington, D.C. Principal investigators at
Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of Arizona in
Tucson, and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, operate
the science instruments. Additional science investigators are located
at the Russian Space Research Institute and Los Alamos National
Laboratories, New Mexico. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver,
Colo., is the prime contractor for the project, and developed and
built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from
Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute
of Technology in Pasadena.
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