Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2001 April 9
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.
Mars Odyssey Lifts Off for Mars
Credit: KSC, NASA

Explanation: Next stop: Mars. On Saturday the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a path to enter orbit around Mars in late October. Pictured above, a Delta II rocket lifted the robot spacecraft, located in the nose cone, off the launch pad, while a camera mounted on the side of the rocket took the inset picture. The Odyssey orbiter will map the locations of chemical elements and minerals, look for evidence of water, and measure the Martian radiation environment. These data will help NASA better determine whether life ever arose on Mars, better understand the climate and geology or Mars, and better plan for future human exploration. The spacecraft's name is a tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey, an epic fictional story of future space exploration written by Arthur C. Clarke.

Tomorrow's picture: Messy Spiral

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.