Mars Odyssey

NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey mission created the first global map of chemical elements and minerals that make up the Martian surface.

active Mission

The 2001 Mars Odyssey mission was the first spacecraft to make a global map of the amount and distribution of chemical elements and minerals that make up the Martian surface. The spacecraft also holds the record for the longest continually active mission in orbit around a planet other than Earth. It successfully completed its primary science mission from February 2002 through August 2004.




April 7, 2001




Mapping the chemical elements and minerals that make up the Martian surface

Meet the Mars Odyssey Orbiter

Key Facts

April 7, 2001, 11:02 am EST
Launch Location
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
April-October 2001
Mars Orbit Insertion
Oct. 24, 2001
Delta II 7925
Mission Duration
2001 - ongoing
A view of the biggest canyon in the solar system, captured by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. This canyon system on Mars, named Valles Marineris, stretches as far as the distance from California to New York. Steep walls nearly as high as Mount Everest give way to numerous side canyons, possibly carved by water. In places, walls have shed massive landslides spilling far out onto the canyon floor.

Tech Specs

7.2 feet (2.2 meters) long
5.6 feet (1.7 meters) tall
8.5 feet (2.6 meters) wide
Total Weight
1,598.4 pounds (725.0 kilograms)
Command and Data Handling Subsystem
The heart of this subsystem is a RAD6000 computer, a radiation-hardened version of the PowerPC chip used on most models of Macintosh computers. With 128 megabytes of random access memory (RAM) and three megabytes of non-volatile memory, which allows the system to maintain data even without power, the subsystem runs Odyssey's flight software and controls the spacecraft through interface electronics.

The entire command and data handling subsystem weighs 24.5 pounds (11.1 kilograms).
Electrical power subsystem weighs 189.6 pounds (86.0 kilograms).
Uses hydrazine propellant with nitrogen tetroxide as an oxidizer, produces a minimum thrust of 144 pounds of force (65.3 kilograms) of force.
Each of the four thrusters used for attitude control produces a thrust of 0.2 pound of force (0.1 kilogram) of force. Four 5.0-pound-force (2.3-kilogram-force) thrusters are used for turning the spacecraft.

The entire propulsion subsystem weighs 109.6 pounds (49.7 kilograms).
Odyssey's telecommunications subsystem is composed of both a radio system operating in the X-band microwave frequency range and a system that operates in the ultra high frequency (UHF) range.
The X-band system is used for communications between Earth and the orbiter, while the UHF system is used for communications between Odyssey and any landers present on the Martian surface at any given time.

The telecommunication subsystem weighs 52.7 pounds (23.9 kilograms).

The Interplanetary Internet

The orbiter's telecommunications systems provide a crucial service for Martian spacecraft, serving as the first link in a communications bridge back to Earth, an "interplanetary Internet" that can be used by numerous international spacecraft in coming years.

Learn More About the Mars Relay Network
Artists concept of communications relay supporting other Mars missions.
Artist's concept of communications relay supporting other Mars missions.


2001 Mars Odyssey has contributed numerous science results supporting the Mars Exploration Program’s overall strategy – “Follow the Water.”

Learn More About Mars Odyssey Science
An overhead landscape the looks like a painting covered in thick globs and spots of paint – a field of light blue-green in the upper right quarter, with a lavender spot in its middle, the lower half is a light olive green, with smudhes of white, and blue-green, and the upper left quarter is mostly shades of purple and very light gray, with smudges of green encroaching. Text at the bottom left shows the bottom edge of the scene is 50 miles across.