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Mars Odyssey begins aerobraking
Posted: Sun, Oct 28, 2001, 9:39 AM ET (1439 GMT)
Mars Odyssey spacecraft illustration NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft started the aerobraking phase of its mission late Friday, skimming through the upper fringes of the Martian atmosphere. The spacecraft passed within 158 km of the Martian surface late Friday night, and made a second pass about 135 km above the surface Saturday afternoon, according to an Associated Press report. Mission managers said the aerobraking passes are taking place without incident. Controllers have decided to delay taking the first image with the spacecraft's thermal infrared imaging system from Sunday until Monday as part of a more conservative "walk-in strategy", according to the AP. The aerobraking portion of the mission, scheduled to last through the end of the year, will gradually change the spacecraft's orbit from its initial elliptical 18.5-hour orbit to a circular 2-hour orbit 400 km above the surface.
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