Joel Werner, Hawass, Nasa discussed on 99% Invisible - 280- Half Measures


This is ninety nine percent invisible i'm roman mars six by four cast your mind back to the late 1990s we have ignition we have liftoff a massive mars climate orbiter as we continue to explore the mysteries of the red planet it's the late twentieth century and is the threat of y two k and rat metal crossover loom large in people's minds and nasa satellite glossoff towards miles that's producer joel werner from the sum of all parts podcast twenty seconds after liftoff everything to go well so this satellite weighing three hundred thirty eight kilograms at seven hundred forty five pounds yeah yeah we'll get to that so the satellite weighing three hundred thirty eight kilograms huddle through space towards the distant planet it takes nearly eight years to get there and when it gets close the satellite fis its main engine to go into orbit around mars up until that point all data from the spacecraft appeared normal everything was running smoothly the engine burned begins just as the spacecraft disappeasr behind mars mission control whites for it to reappear and they wait and wait and weight but the spacecraft never emergence the miles climate orbiter is loss i'm sorry to report that we have a serious problem with the mars climate orbiter we may in fact be facing a lots of waymo in the space craft came in at a lower out and then than we had intended and then depending on on on how low that was and it's something we're still going to confirm it protests resulted in hawass in the scientists that nasa began to pour over the data looking for clues as to what might have gone wrong and before long they figured out the spacecraft was supposed to approach the planet at an altitude of one hundred fifty kilometers or 93 miles when in fact it approach had been lower much lower the postmortem at nasa found that a pretty simple error was to blame a conversion error the nasa investigative board confirmed the cause of the failure of the hundred and twentyfive million dollar spacecraft nasa team at jet propulsion lab at tory assume they were using the metric system to measure rocket firings.

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