NASA Spacecraft Maps Red Planet
Feb. 20, 2002
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has begun using its science instruments to map the Red Planet, officials said Tuesday.
The orbiting spacecraft turned on its thermal emission imaging system Tuesday morning, and gamma ray spectrometer instruments have begun collecting data on the composition of the martian surface.
The camera system, which takes both visible and infrared images, will undergo calibration and the first images will be released March 1.
``Once we get the system calibrated, there will be a tremendous flow of image data,'' said Philip Christensen, principal investigator for the thermal imaging system at Arizona State University at Tempe.
The spacecraft reached Mars in October and spent months reducing its elongated initial orbit through a process called aerobraking. Science operations had to wait until the orbit was reduced and circularized.