Mars Odyssey was launched on 7 April 2001, and reached Mars on 24 October 2001. Mars Global Surveyor left Earth on 7 November 1996, and arrived in Mars orbit on 12 September 1997. Both spacecraft are in an extended mission phase, both have relayed data from the Mars Exploration Rovers, both are continuing to return exciting new results from Mars and both are in somewhat different orbits for safety’s sake.
That makes the photos just in pretty exciting!
They’re the first pictures of a spacecraft orbiting Mars taken by another spacecraft orbiting Mars. In April 2005, the MOC aboard Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was used to take pictures of the other two spacecraft currently operating in orbit around Mars: NASA’s Mars Odyssey and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express.