Artist's rendering of the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft on its way to Mars
As the Odyssey spacecraft makes it way toward Mars, mission
engineers are working hard to prepare for arrival at Mars at 0230
Universal time Oct. 24 (7:30 p.m. Pacific time Oct. 23). Join Charles
Whetsel, chief engineer of the Mars Exploration Program, and Matt
Landano, 2001 Mars Odyssey project manager, as they describe the
hard yet rewarding road to Mars.
Risky Business: A Mission to Mars
Imagine planning for a long sailing voyage. Your survival depends
upon the sturdiness of your craft, planning and skill. Stowed onboard
must be all the provisions, tools and hardware you'll need. Your
knowledge and judgment about how to navigate through wind,
weather and waves will be crucial to staying afloat.
You've learned from the successes and misfortunes of previous
voyages. You won't make the same mistakes, but you know you may
encounter some new challenges. When something breaks, you will
need to be able to work around it. Beneath the surface may lurk
something unexpected. Within the bowels of your sailing craft,
there may be a weakness or a flaw that won't make itself known
until later. And it may get you in the end. Vigilant, wary, you're
ready for the best and prepared for the worst, for the things you
don't know will happen.
In a way, space engineers say, that's a little of what it's like
to work on a mission to Mars.