Mars Odyssey holds the longevity record for a spacecraft orbiting another planet - 13 years! Seen here is an artist concept of the spacecraft orbiting Mars.
2001 Mars Odyssey is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The opportunity to go to Mars comes around every 26 months, when the alignment of Earth and Mars in their orbits around the sun allows spacecraft to travel between the two planets with the least amount of energy.
2001 Mars Odyssey launched on April 7, 2001, and arrived at Mars on October 23, 2001 10:30pm EDT. Odyssey's primary science mission took place February 2002 through August 2004, and the orbiter began its extended missions on August 24, 2004.
For the first time, the mission globally mapped the amount and distribution of many chemical elements and minerals that make up the martian surface. Maps of hydrogen distribution led scientists to discover vast amounts of water ice in the polar regions buried just beneath the surface. Odyssey also recorded the radiation environment in low Mars orbit to determine the radiation-related risk to any future human explorers who may one day go to Mars. All of these objectives support the four science goals of the Mars Exploration Program.
Image credit: NASA/JPL#nasa #mars #odyssey #planets #solarsystem #spacecraft #satellite