Mars Odyssey Deploys Antenna, Nearly Ready for Science Mission

NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, which recently settled into its proper orbit around Mars, has now deployed an antenna that is needed for high-speed data downloads to Earth. The high-gain communications antenna, as it is called, was unfurled at 10:29 ET Tuesday, Feb. 5. The act is on of the final steps required to get the probe ready to begin science missions. The antenna boom was deployed to its latched position with a motor-driven hinge and locked into place as expected, officials said Wednesday. The high-gain antenna is 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) in diameter, with a parabolic shape. The antenna can transmit at data rates as high as 110 thousand bits per second.