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    A 'Slight' Navigation Error!
    From: Anthony Cappiello
    Date: 1999 Oct 01, 08:11 EDT

    I am amazed at how the simple things so often overlooked have such major
    consequences! The current estimate is that the error was only 10 to 20 miles
    in altitude. Just enough to BURN UP AND LEAVE A STREAK OF LIGHT IN
    THE MARTIAN NIGHT SKY!
    FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH!
    REGARDS
    TONY CAPPIELLO
    Date sent:              Thu, 30 Sep 1999 11:43:57 -0700 (PDT)
    From:                   JPLNews{at}XXX.XXX
    Subject:                Mars Climate Orbiter team finds likely cause of loss
    MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
    JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
    CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
    PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
    Contact:  Mary Hardin, JPL, (818) 354-5011
              Joan Underwood, Lockheed Martin Astronautics (303) 971-7398
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    September 30, 1999
    MARS CLIMATE ORBITER TEAM FINDS LIKELY CAUSE OF LOSS
         A failure to recognize and correct an error in a transfer of
    information between the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft team in
    Colorado and the mission navigation team in California led to the
    loss of the spacecraft last week, preliminary findings by NASA's
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory internal peer review indicate.
         "People sometimes make errors," said Dr. Edward Weiler,
    NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science. "The problem
    here was not the error, it was the failure of NASA's systems
    engineering, and the checks and balances in our processes to
    detect the error.  That's why we lost the spacecraft."
         The peer review preliminary findings indicate that one team
    used English units (e.g., inches, feet and pounds) while the
    other used metric units for a key spacecraft operation.  This
    information was critical to the maneuvers required to place the
    spacecraft in the proper Mars orbit.
         "Our inability to recognize and correct this simple error
    has had major implications," said Dr. Edward Stone, director of
    the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  "We have underway a thorough
    investigation to understand this issue."
         Two separate review committees have already been formed to
    investigate the loss of Mars Climate Orbiter: an internal JPL
    peer group and a special review board of JPL and outside experts.
    An independent NASA failure review board will be formed shortly.
         "Our clear short-term goal is to maximize the likelihood of
    a successful landing of the Mars Polar Lander on December 3,"
    said Weiler. "The lessons from these reviews will be applied
    across the board in the future."
         Mars Climate Orbiter was one of a series of missions in a
    long-term program of Mars exploration managed by the Jet
    Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science,
    Washington, DC.  JPL's industrial partner is Lockheed Martin
    Astronautics, Denver, CO.  JPL is a division of the California
    Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.
    

       
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