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Mars Polar Lander
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Newest: Jun 01, 2005
Recent remarks to two different audiences have some wondering whether NASA Administrator Dan Goldin is dodging responsibility for two Mars failures without looking like he's dodging. In a speech earlier this month to a computing summit in Maryland, Goldin blamed the Mars failures on inadequate computer design tools and said his critics tend to "look for the guilty and punish the innocent." He adopted a different attitude, however, in a recent interview with Florida Today that touched on the 1999 loss of Mars Climate Observer and Mars Polar Lander on separate missions. "As an agency, we are willing to tell the world we made a mistake," Goldin said. "In the case of the Mars program, I believe that the people pressed too hard and they pressed too hard because I asked them to. Clearly we have to push it a little less aggressively."
The $297-million Mars Odyssey mission, crucial for NASA's recovery from back-to-back Mars flight losses, is set for liftoff this week on a "do-or-die" mission to validate reforms in the wake of the failures. The Odyssey orbiter will search for "Martian oases" as targets for future U.S./European landers.
NASA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) today said researchers from the two agencies will continue a joint review of the initial results of NIMA's search for the missing Mars Polar Lander. This analysis is extremely challenging, and has thus far produced no definitive conclusions.
NASA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) are moving forward on joint studies to search for the lost Mars Polar Lander. The craft has been missing in action since it attempted to soft-land on the Red Planet on Dec. 3, 1999. The craft was believed to have crashed on Mars, busting itself up across the Martian terrain. But NIMA photo specialists have been poring over NASA-supplied photos snapped by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, now in orbit about Mars. As a support agency of the Department of Defense, NIMA has long been associated with interpretation of high-resolution imagery snapped by Earth-circling military spy satellites.
Fifteen months after the Mars Polar Lander vanished, Defense Department imaging experts have spotted what may be a trace of the spacecraft on the surface of the Red Planet, a NASA official said. Experts at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency have spent months poring over high-resolution images of the region where the Polar Lander was to have set down.
The Mars Polar Lander may have been found -- intact -- by a top-secret spy imagery agency. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) has been quietly scanning Mars pictures, looking for the Mars Polar Lander since early December 1999. According to a source close to the NIMA effort, photographic specialists at NIMA think they’ve spotted something. But NASA officials say it’s too early to tell.
NASA has sparked a new uproar over the failed $165 million Mars Polar Lander program because of a statement in a recently released report. This latest Mars-program controversy revolves around NASA's claim that a "target" was "achieved" because the spacecraft's robotic arm worked in testing on Earth, even though the arm and the entire Lander were lost after crashing into Mars in early December.
The House's chief overseer of NASA on Wednesday blamed mismanagement for two failed Mars missions but stopped short of calling for changes in the space agency's leadership. An independent review of the missions, which both failed in 1999, concluded last month that they failed because of inadequate testing, inexperienced staff, poor communication and insufficient funds. But Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., said those problems could have been avoided had management paid more attention to tests, employee training and budget management.
A recent NASA report found the Deep Space 2 microprobes were unfit for launch but sent to Mars all the same, where they vanished December 3, 1999 along with their mothership, the Mars Polar Lander.
The software problem that likely crashed the Mars Polar Lander into the Red Planet’s frozen ground is striking mainly for its obviousness, according to a software safety expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
A software glitch that likely doomed the Mars Polar Lander might have done the same to NASA’s next spacecraft to alight on the Red Planet had the problem not been uncovered by accident, a Lockheed Martin Astronautics official said Wednesday.
NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin said Wednesday he accepts the blame for the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander spacecraft, saying he had asked the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to do the impossible.