Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL Earth JPL Solar System JPL Stars and Galaxies JPL Science and Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology 2001 Mars Odyssey NASA Home Page Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology Follow this link to skip to the main content
NASA logo, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology header separator
+ NASA Homepage
+ NASA en Español
+ Marte en Español
2001 Mars Odyssey
Overview Science Technology The Mission People Features Events Multimedia
Mars for Kids
Mars for Students
Mars for Educators
Mars for Press
+ Mars Home
+ Odyssey Home
bullet Latest Images
bullet Spacecraft
bullet Martian Terrain
Latest Images
Return to Latest Images index
This vertical, rectangular, color image taken from orbit shows a sinuous wall of cliffs, reflecting the bright yellow light of the sun, meandering from left to right about two-thirds of the way up from the bottom of the image. The cliffs form the upper wall of a large canyon. Below the cliffs, just above the bottom of the image, is a meandering field of sinuous, black dunes winding from the left to the lower right. Between the dunes are round protrusions rising from a sandy, brown to black canyon floor. Above the cliffs, near the top of the image, are mesas and rugged hills atop a largely flat, sandy, brown plateau.
Full Res TIFF (1.6 MB)

2001 Mars Odyssey Turns 5

Five years after leaving Florida for Mars, NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft is still orbiting the red planet, collecting scientific data and relaying communications from NASA's two Mars rovers to Earth. Images such as this spectacular, color view of sun-bathed, layered escarpments and wind-scalloped, basalt dunes in the solar system's largest canyon continue to beckon space explorers and guide the way for future missions. Basaltic dunes are common on Mars but rare on Earth. Rounded knobs and mesas on the canyon floor are reminiscent of desert geology in the southwestern U.S.

A team led by Phil Christensen, principal investigator for Odyssey's cameras at Arizona State University, Jim Bell at Cornell University, and space artist Don Davis created this panorama. They added color to radiance files from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), a camera on Odyssey that takes images in both the visible and infrared parts of the spectrum. They correlated the radiance - intensity of reflected sunlight - with that of other color images from Mars and mimimized the effects of residual scattered light in the images.

In addition to producing images such as this, Mars Odyssey has made global observations of Martian climate, geology, and mineralogy. The spacecraft's Gamma Ray Spectrometer has allowed scientists to make maps of the elemental distribution of hydrogen, silicon, iron, potassium, thorium, and chlorine on the Martian surface. A global map of minerals associated with water, essential to life as we know it, guided NASA in its selection of Meridiani Planum, the landing site for NASA's Opportunity rover, an area rich in hematite. Odyssey is currently supporting landing site selection for the Phoenix Scout Mission, to be launched in 2007, using data showing that surface areas near the poles of Mars consist of more than 50 percent water ice by volume.

Other Odyssey accomplishments include measurement of radiation, a prerequisite for future human exploration because of its potential health effects, and a groundbreaking program in education outreach that has allowed students to take pictures of Mars and conduct scientific investigations with cameras on Odyssey.

Mars Odyssey was launched April 7, 2001 on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and reached Mars on October 24, 2001. Odyssey employed a technique called "aerobraking" that used the atmosphere of Mars to slow down and gradually bring the spacecraft closer to Mars with each orbit. Odyssey's science mapping mission began in February 2002. The primary science mission continued through August 2004. Odyssey is currently in its extended mission.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/Cornell/Don Davis

JPL Image Use Policy

Credits Feedback Related Links Sitemap