Sci­en­tists find the error

Science Illustrated - - SPACE/ SOLAR SYSTEM -

The first NASA mis­sion to Mars in 17 years ends as a to­tal failure, when the Amer­i­can space agency loses con­tact with the Mars Ob­server craft on 21 Au­gust 1993.

Af­ter a 725 mil­lion km jour­ney, and only three days be­fore the probe was to en­ter into an or­bit around Mars, NASA no longer re­ceives any sig­nals from it. The con­nec­tion is never re­stored, so the craft does not make any of the mea­sure­ments which were the aim of the USD 813 mil­lion mis­sion.

NASA sets up a commission, which analy­ses 60 ac­ci­dent sce­nar­ios. En­gi­neers con­clude that the error was due to a fuel pipe leak that might have harmed the craft’s elec­tron­ics and forced it into an un­con­trolled spin, en­ter­ing into an eter­nal or­bit around the Sun.

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