April 7, 2001: Mars Odyssey Launches on Delta II Rocket

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Ten years ago on this date, the 2001 Mars Odyssey launched into space strapped to a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It took more than six months for the robotic spacecraft to reach Mars' orbit, but it has remained there ever since. In December, the craft, which was developed by NASA but contracted out to Lockheed Martin, broke longevity records. To this day, it continues to provide support to the rovers that wander the Red Planet on long-term scientific missions.

"The name '2001 Mars Odyssey' was selected as a tribute to the vision and spirit of space exploration as embodied in the works of renowned science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke," NASA explains. "Evocative of one of his most celebrated works, the name speaks to our hopes for the future and of the fundamental human desire to explore the unknown despite great dangers, the risk of failure and the daunting, enormous depths of space."

Part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, Odyssey spends most of its time hunting for evidence of past or present water and volcanic activity on the planet.

Below, we've collected just a few of the many astonishing photographs and renderings of the Martian landscape that have been made possible thanks to the work of the Mars Odyssey and its support team back on the ground.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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