2001 Mars Odyssey

Launched April 7, 2001

Arrived in orbit Oct. 23, 2001


Ice mapping over the South Pole of Mars


Mars Odyssey is mapping the amount and distribution of chemical elements and minerals that make up the martian surface. The spacecraft has globally mapped many elements on the surface and most importantly, hydrogen distribution, which led scientists to discover vast amounts of water ice in the polar regions burried just beneath the surface. Odyssey discovered vast amounts of ice, not just on the ice caps, but in many areas just below the surface. Ice means water and "follow the water" was the Mars program's goal, at that time. Today it's "follow the carbon", which could indicate the possibility of past or present life.



The Odyssey team put in quite a lot of extra effort to ensure it's succesful arrival in orbit. The navigation team did a spectacular job, basically designing a new method of pinpointing the spacecraft's location. During Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI), the team hit the exact target in space they were shooting for, just a little spot in space after an enormously long journey. It was JPL's way of saying, no, we haven't forgotten how to orbit Mars.


Odyssey viewing clouds over Olympus volcano

Left: the pressure was on but the team delivered. Everyone in the Mars program was very grateful, from NASA headquarters all the way down to me.





This image of mine was released by the Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS) Team to illustrate their discovery of subsurface ice on Mars. This scene shows Odyssey before the GRS boom had even been deployed but already the hydrogen signal was loud and clear, indicating quite a lot of ice.   This is my most well-known image of Odyssey. The orbiter is shown over the Syrtis Major Planum, the dark volcanic area below the GRS boom. Odyssey can look for hot spots on the surface using it's infrard THEMIS instrument. THEMIS is the gold instrument on the bottom, to the right of the bottom solar panel.


My Mars Odyssey Stamp Collection


I created nearly all of the 2001 mission artwork since the project began. It was very exciting interacting with the Odyssey mission managers and scientists over the years. Best of all was my Odyssey logo which was launched on the side of the Delta 2 rocket when Odyssey began it's 6 month trip to Mars on April 7, 2001. Below are the team members that I worked with while creating the artwork and logo.



Mars Odyssey Team

Project manager George Pace with the orbiter during testing. George was the one who asked me to create the Odyssey logo. Later, when I dropped by his office to show him a cool stereo 3D image of Odyssey in orbiter, he took a look at it and shouted "Holy smokes!". That was a memorable moment.
Roger Gibbs, the deputy project manager, became project manager after launch. He's wearing an Odyssey logo pin.
Steve Saunders was the Odyssey Project Scientist. He's wearing an Odyssey logo pin.


Mars Orbit Insertion, Oct. 23, 2001: Dave Spencer (center), mission manager, with the Odyssey Flight Operations Team badge visible (see image at right for better view). The man in the background is Carl Kloss, Science Payload Manager. After Odyssey's safe arrival when we were all celebrating in JPL's Von Karman Auditorium, Carl's job was essentiallly finished and I remember him saying " complete mission success" - meaning he had overseen the delivery of Odyssey's science instruments safely to Mars. My artwork was on the wall of the mission control room.

NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and Dave Spencer after Odyssey's signal arrived announcing safe arrival in orbit. He's wearing the badge with my artwork.





Former Deputy Project Scientist Jeff Plaut is Odyssey Project Scientist. He worked me on the design of the MOI badge artwork. Here he is standing in front of one of the many Mars program timelines I've created over the years. It's awesome seeing so many of my spacecraft images on the timeline. It's as though I "took over" the Mars program, graphically speaking.




April 7, 2001 Odyssey Launch Event, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Boeing Space Systems 2001 Mars Odyssey


My triumphant return to Kennedy Space Center

My wife and I were at Kennedy Space Center for the Odyssey launch the same week as the 20th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch, STS-1. Just before this picture was taken I got to shake hands and talk briefly with veteran astronaut John Young, the mission commander on that historic flight. When a TV news crew heard about it they interviewed me, not about Odyssey but what it was like to be there 20 years later. It was a wonderful moment because 20 years ago I was only an interested observer and now I was part of my own launch - to Mars, no less. It was beyond cool.


2001: A "Mars" Odyssey?

Imagination vs. reality


Imagine that you were a big fan of the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" ever since it was released in 1968. And that decades later you found yourself actually working for and artistically representing NASA's big 2001 mission to Mars. Well, that's what happened to me and it's hard to imagine many personal career achievements better than that! The mission is still going on and although there are no astronauts on the real 2001 Odyssey our orbiter is nonetheless making one "Discovery" after another . . . like vast amounts of frozen water that suggest the possibility of life. Stay tuned because it's really starting to get interesting.



The 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center in this monolith-shaped container.



Odyssey's successful Mars Orbit Insertion was critical


"Great galactic ghoul"

October 23, 2001: a week before Halloween, Mars Odyssey successfully returned NASA to Mars by successfully evading the "Great galactic ghoul", as seen above.




These are some of the patches and pins that featured my Odyssey artwork.



2000 Rose Parade appearance of Odyssey artwork

New Year's Day, Jan. 1, 2000: My Odyssey artwork appeared on a float in the Rose Parade. It was created by using only natural, organic materials, e.g., seeds, flowers, etc. This picture shows just one part of the float.






 2001 Mars Odyssey "On a trip to Cirrus Minor"




(The above image wasn't created by me but I did add the text)


Nov. 20, 2008: Evidence of vast frozen water reserves on Mars

Aug. 16, 2006 NASA Findings Suggest Jets Bursting From Martian Ice Cap

Aug. 16, 2006:Roaring Jets of Carbon Dioxide Solve Mars Mystery

Aug. 25, 2004: Mars Odyssey Begins Overtime After Successful Mission

Aug. 24, 2004: Mission Success: The Magic of Mars Odyssey

May, 2002: Odyssey Finds Water Ice in Abundance Under Mars' Surface





  Odyssey website link


 Jan. 30, 2002: Odyssey settles into final orbit.

October 23, 2001: Odyssey Mars Orbit Insertion is a success! Also see "Inside the Mars Odyssey control room during Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI)".


 Mars Odyssey Science Instrument Team Links



  Gamma Ray Spectrometer team

 THEMIS homepage




 Martian Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE) homepage

 Russian High Energy Neutron Detector (HEND) homepage  


2001 Lander and Rover Cancelled!


The 2001 Mars Surveyor project originally had an orbiter, lander and rover but the surface elements were canceled after the Mars 98 losses. There was intense pressure to make sure that the next Mars mission, now renamed 2001 Mars Odyssey, succeeded.

My Mars Surveyor 2001 logo contest entry (it lost). Someone else won the contest but after the loss of both Mars 98 spacecraft the 2001 lander and rover were cancelled. The 2001 orbiter manger asked me to design the final logo. If those 2 spacecraft hadn't been lost I would never have had my logo flown into space!

My 2nd Mars Surveyor 2001 logo 
I can't remember whether this version was actually used on the website or not.



My first 2001 Mars Surveyor project logo


Fourth Millennium mission art links




Continue to 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers



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Mars Surveyor 2001