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Mars Odyssey enters orbit
Posted: Wed, Oct 24, 2001, 12:12 AM ET (0412 GMT)
Mars Odyssey spacecraft illustration NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft successfully entered orbit around Mars Tuesday night. The spacecraft fired its main engine for approximately 20 minutes starting at 10:26 pm EDT (0226 GMT Wednesday), although ground controllers were not able to confirm that the engine burn had started for several minutes because of communications difficulties. The spacecraft slipped behind Mars at 10:36 pm EDT (0236 GMT) and reemerged at 10:55 pm EDT (0255 GMT); the acquisition of signals from the spacecraft on schedule confirmed to mission controllers that the orbit insertion burn was a success. The engine burn put Mars Odyssey into a temporary elliptical orbit, which will be circularized by a set of aerobraking maneuvers scheduled to begin in about a week. Once in its final circular orbit Mars Odyssey's instruments will be used to map the composition of the planet's surface, search for evidence of subsurface water, and study the radiation environment around the planet.
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