Massive Mars Dust Storm Has Odyssey Mission Managers Watching

A dusty welcome mat is out for NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft, now less than two weeks away from dropping into orbit around the red planet. A global dust storm of massive proportions, unlike any seen since the early 1970s, now rages across Mars. The already on-duty spacecraft, Mars Global Surveyor, as well as the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, are giving scientists front row seats to the churning storm. At a NASA briefing on October 11, scientists offered their views on what they call the “perfect storm” on the planet. Mars weather watching is even more critical because the soon-to-arrive Odyssey spacecraft must repeatedly dip into the Martian atmosphere to move itself into a correct orbit for carrying out science duties.