GRS addresses the fundamental objectives of the Mars Surveyor Program; namely, to understand the Martian environment and its history, to determine whether this environment supported life (or supports it still), and to assess the resources available on the planet.
GRS was launched aboard 2001 Mars Odyssey. This spacecraft is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Other instruments on this mission are THEMIS (Thermal Emission Imaging System) and MARIE (Martian Radiation Environment Experiment). Launch occurred on Saturday 7 April 2001 from Kennedy Space Center with arrival at Mars on Tuesday 23 October 2001.
The GRS is a partnership between the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Russia's Space Research Institute.
* To quantitatively determine the elemental abundances of the Martian surface
* To map the distribution of water and to determine its near-surface stratigraphy
* To determine the depth of the seasonal polar caps and its variation with time
* To study the nature of cosmic gamma-ray bursts