is an unmanned spacecraft
that launched April 7
. Its mission is to travel to Mars
, establish itself in orbit
, and, using spectrometers
, hunt for evidence of past or present water
and volcanic activity[?]
on Mars. It is hoped that the data Odyssey obtains will help answer the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars.
The spacecraft reached Mars on October 24, 2001 and began to map the surface using its thermal emission imaging system on February 19, 2002.
Mars Odyssey on May 26, 2002 observed the planet Mars with its instruments, and preliminary reports indicated that its gamma ray spectrometer had discovered huge deposits of water ice buried beneath the surface of the planet.
The project was developed by NASA, and contracted out to Lockheed Martin. The expected cost for the entire mission is $297 million.
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