Mars Odyssey celebrates new record
16 December 2010, 11:37
Washington - Mars Odyssey, the orbiter that has been looking for life on the red planet since 2001, celebrated a record early on Thursday as the longest-working spacecraft flying around Mars, the US space agency said.
Odyssey finished its 3 340th day in Martian orbit at 01:55 GMT on Thursday, surpassing the record set by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (Nasa's) Mars Global Surveyor, which circled Mars from 1997 to 2006.
In addition to its continuous aerial search for life, Odyssey serves as a relay station for communications between Earth and the Mars surface explorers Spirit and Opportunity, which have outlived their expectations by years, and the Phoenix lander.
Nasa noted that Odyssey's discovery of hydrogen below Mars' surface in 2002 triggered Nasa's Phoenix mission, which confirmed the finding in 2008.
The Mars Odyssey - its official name is taken from the 1968 epic film 2001: A Space Odyssey - is to also support the next major Mars mission, the 2012 Mars Science Laboratory.