OT??? NASA Says Mars Orbiter Lost In Space

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NASA Says Mars Orbiter Lost In Space

Updated 12:19 PM ET September 23, 1999

PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) - NASA scientists said Thursday that their Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft was missing and they feared that it may have broken up just as it was due to go into orbit around the Red Planet.

NASA officials monitoring the craft said they lost communication with the unmanned orbiter after it went behind the planet at about 5:30 a.m. EDT.

Project manager Richard Cook told a news conference, "We believe the spacecraft came in at a lower altitude than we thought it would and that potentially resulted in the loss of the mission."

He added that NASA scientists had expected that the orbiter would approach Mars at a height of between 87 and 93 miles when it fact it came in at 37 miles above the surface of the planet. He said the minimum survival height was 85 kilometers.

The project's development manager, John McNamee, said, "We don't believe that (60 kilometers) is survivable."

The spacecraft was launched in December 1998 with NASA hoping that it would gather data on atmospheric conditions on Mars through each of its seasons and learn about past and future weather conditions

-- What's up? (strange@h.u.h?), September 23, 1999


Probably got whacked by the asteroid that will be killing us all later today sometime.......I'm certain Klinton knows about it but the NWO won't let him tell us about it.

-- Craig (craig@ccinet.ab.ca), September 23, 1999.


-- I WAS TOLD,THAT (dogs@zianet.com), September 23, 1999.

I did it...


-- zog (mars@planet.com), September 23, 1999.

" scientists had expected that the orbiter would approach Mars at a height of between 87 and 93 miles when it fact it came in at 37 miles above the surface of the planet.

catastrophic computer/navigation miscalculation?

they'll fix it in a couple of days...go manual...work around it.

Anyone got a really long ladder?



-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), September 23, 1999.

The Old Ones probably got annoyed at this latest incursion into their airspace and just caused the Orbiter to "not be." NASA obviously needs to grok Mars more fully before its next attempt.

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), September 23, 1999.

Homer Beanfang cut a fart.

It blew the whole darn thing apart.

-- (sickofthis@crap.com), September 23, 1999.

Why is it that a real, Reuters story is posted regarding what is obviously a very big story (the destruction of a multi-million dollar NASA space probe) that was obviously due to a miscalculation of some kind and it is met with such scoffs?

I'm amazed.

First, NASA is the agency made reference to in Alan Greedspin's speach (credit to A&L for "Greedspin").

Second, there was obviously a problem with either the science or the programming on the craft which ended in it's demise.

The person who posted this story NEVER mentioned little green men/women or Comet Lee, etc.

Get a grip. Just because it happened out in space doesn't mean the poster was out to lunch!


Thanks to you "What's up?" I got it.



-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), September 23, 1999.


Everyone back to the ship! Sensors indicate an attack by alien creatures is IMMINENT!

(From ANY old Lost in Space episode.... Sorry, couldn't resist)

-- Dennis (djolson@pressenter.com), September 23, 1999.

Isn't this the third Mars probe with which we've lost communication? I know this isn't the first time something like this has happened.

-- Mars (the@red.planet), September 23, 1999.

We're ALWAYS losing Mars probes. Why just the other day, a probe I sent out to Mars got within 49 nautical miles, then, poof, no signal, nothing, nada. Damn. NASA stands for Not Another Screwup Aargh!! Actually, the probe is OK. NASA is preetendin that it don't work right. They always do that. After all, wouldn't want to actually see what the Face looks like.

-- nummy (cool@cool.com), September 23, 1999.

Fresh from the JPL Media Relations Site.....

PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

NASA'S Mars Climate Orbiter believed to be lost
September 23, 1999

      NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter is believed to be lost due to a suspected navigation error.

      Early this morning at about 2 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time the orbiter fired its main engine to go into orbit around the planet. All the information coming from the spacecraft leading up to that point looked normal. The engine burn began as planned five minutes before the spacecraft passed behind the planet as seen from Earth. Flight controllers did not detect a signal when the spacecraft was expected to come out from behind the planet.

      "We had planned to approach the planet at an altitude of about 150 kilometers (93 miles). We thought we were doing that, but upon review of the last six to eight hours of data leading up to arrival, we saw indications that the actual approach altitude had been much lower. It appears that the actual altitude was about 60 kilometers (37 miles). We are still trying to figure out why that happened," said Richard Cook, project manager for the Mars Surveyor Operations Project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We believe that the minimum survivable altitude for the spacecraft would have been 85 kilometers (53 miles)."

      "If in fact we have lost the spacecraft it is very serious, but it is not devastating to the Mars Surveyor Program as a whole. The program is flexible enough to allow us to recover the science return of Mars Climate Orbiter on a future mission. This is not necessarily science lost; it is science delayed," said Dr. Carl Pilcher, science director for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. "We have a robust program to explore Mars that involves launching on average one mission per year for at least a decade. It began with the launch of Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor in 1996, continued with Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander and will be followed by more missions in 2001, 2003 and 2005. In fact, Mars Polar Lander will arrive in just over two months and its mission is completely independent of the Mars Climate Orbiter. The science return of that mission won't be affected."

      Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA and Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, CO will continue their efforts to locate the spacecraft through the Deep Space Network during the next several hours. A special investigation team has been formed by JPL to further assess the situation.

      Mars Climate Orbiter is one of a series of missions in a long-term program of Mars exploration known as the Mars Surveyor Program that is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.

MH 99-080 9/23/99

-- Brian E. Smith (besmith@mail.arc.nasa.gov), September 23, 1999.

Putting satellites into orbit round faraway planets can't be the easiest thing to do. Have to expect screwups from time to time...

-- J (j@j.j), September 24, 1999.

Richard Hoagland, frequent guest on Art Bell, has suspicions that the craft is likely OK, but the "MIA" story is to keep findings secret. It seems that there is a suspiciously high percentage of "failures" in regards to Mars missions vs. other missions.

Hoagland is famous for his whistle-blowing about the NASA (supposedly a civilian organization) "Face on Mars" coverup and other secret missions.

http://www.enterprisemission.com (Hoagland -- may not be anything posted yet, so check back in a few days if nothing now re this)
http://www.artbell.com (Art Bell site having links to scores (hundreds?) of his radio show guests.)

-- A (A@AisA.com), September 24, 1999.

As I recall we seem to loose more stuff associated with Mars, than we gain.


NASA-pal, over on the Millennium Salons Forum (another Greenspun LUSENET site) there's a thread that posits this could be a GPS-related "glitch."

Whatcha' think?


Mars Orbiter and GPS - just curious

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id= 001She

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), September 24, 1999.

too bad we lost this machine. i am always extremely curious about the new things those space probes discover. and nasa's budget is only a mere smidgeon of what it was (as a % of GNP) in the apollo era. i say what they need is MORE money and MORE rockets and MORE scientists!!

-- coprolith (coprolith@rocketship.com), September 24, 1999.


GPS problem? 'Fraid not; GPS is for Earth navigation only, depending on Earth-orbiting satelite triangulation. Mars doesn't have it (yet).


I agree. To paraphrase Robert H. Heinlein:

The Earth is an altogether too fragile a basket to keep all its eggs in.

-- Spindoc' (spindoc_99_2000@yahoo.com), September 24, 1999.

My apologies, Sir Fossilized Rocky Dinosaur Dung, I misspelled your name: coprolith. I enjoy your posts. I wish as many grad students I work with were as on-the-ball as you appear to be.

-- Spindoc' (spindoc_99_2000@yahoo.com), September 24, 1999.

i should be working harder. work's never done. i am at work now, even. but i have to go and see my sweetheart. good night world.

-- coprolith (coprolith@rocketship.com), September 24, 1999.

If you believe this NASA crap you'll believe anything.

The probe is transmitting data loud and clear - we, the public who pay for all this with our tax dollars, are going to see Jack.

Hoagland is damned right about NASA.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), September 24, 1999.

would ever mars be pure water?

-- lucero hernandez (lucero@aol.com), March 12, 2003.

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