Donald Savage

Headquarters, Washington, DC

(Phone: 202/358-1727)

Mary Hardin

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

(Phone: 818/354-0344)

RELEASE: 00-155

As NASA’s next spacecraft to the red planet begins a crucial
round of testing in preparations for launch next year, the mission
has been given a new name: 2001 Mars Odyssey.

“The year 2001 has a special significance to many of us who recall
the thrill of reading the book and watching the movie ‘2001: A
Space Odyssey.’ We looked forward to the exciting future of space
exploration that the year 2001 promised,” said Scott Hubbard, Mars
Program Director at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

“NASA’s next mission to Mars, launching in the year 2001,
represents the start of a new wave of exploration at the red
planet,” said Hubbard. “It seemed fitting to name the mission 2001
Mars Odyssey not only in honor of the story and the movie, but
also to herald the start of our new long-term journey to explore

Hubbard added that Arthur C. Clarke, author of “2001: A Space
Odyssey,” enthusiastically endorsed the new mission name.

The orbiting spacecraft is designed to find out what Mars is made
of, detect water and shallow buried ice and study the radiation
environment. The spacecraft begins thermal vacuum testing this
week at Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, CO, where it was
designed and built.

“It’s exciting to have a new name for the mission, and going into
the thermal vacuum testing chamber is the next big step for the
spacecraft,” said George Pace, project manager for 2001 Mars
Odyssey at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. “We
will simulate the full range of temperatures that the spacecraft
will be subjected to during its entire mission, from the coldest
to the warmest.”

“We have done several things in response to the NASA review board
recommendations to ensure mission success, like adding additional
staff and transitioning development personnel to operations. I’m
confident we have a solid mission,” Pace added.

The orbiter will study the kinds of minerals on the surface and
measure the amount of hydrogen in the shallow subsurfaces of the
planet, which will give scientists clues about the presence of
water, either past or present. It will also provide information on
the structure of the Martian surface and on the geological
processes that may have caused it. Finally, the orbiter will take
all-important measurements of the planet’s radiation environment
so potential health risks to future human explorers can be
evaluated. To do this, the spacecraft carries three science
instruments: The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), the
Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS), and the Mars Radiation Environment
Experiment (MARIE).

2001 Mars Odyssey is scheduled for launch on April 7, 2001, on a
Delta II launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.
The space explorer is scheduled to arrive at Mars in October 2001.

In August, NASA announced plans to launch twin rovers which will
land on Mars in 2003, and later this fall, will announce details
of the multi-year Mars exploration program plan.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Office of Space Science.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, CO, is JPL’s industrial
partner. JPL is a division of the California Institute of