SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Sunspots, Zero-G Wedding, More

SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Sunspots, Zero-G Wedding, More
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June 22, 2009--After eight months of fine-tuning its orbit, the Mars Odyssey spacecraft is ready to get an earlier start to its days, NASA has announced.

Previously the orbiter had swung daily over the sunlit side of Mars during the planet's late afternoon. The new orbit puts Odyssey over the dayside surface in mid-afternoon, boosting the craft's ability to detect heat energy from various Martian minerals, such as those seen in this May 2009 infrared image.

The switch comes at a price, though: The new orbit means sunlight will fry a key part of the craft's gamma ray detector.
—Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Arizona State University
 
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