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

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.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

A global look at the hardest and best job ever

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

More in Technology

Just In