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NPR's All Things Considered
Broadcast 14/03/2000, Story 12

It's n. p. r.'s all things considered i'm noah adams and i'm linda wertheimer today a team of scientists and engineers is presenting a report to nasa management on the failure of the mars program and the space craft the craft was lost last december as it descended to the martian surface nasa has refused to discuss the content of the report but some senior people working on a mission to save the mystery may have been solved

Nasa has found a software bug didn't make her shut off the land is rockets prematurely during descent causing it to crash into the surface n. p. r.'s david tested um reports

The software bugs surfaced weeks after the mars' polar lander disappeared when nasa engineers were preparing another mission to mars the spacecraft was almost identical to the poll the lander and during tests engineers found a serious design flaw a computer but in a program that controls the land richard director project scientist for the mars cola lander mission he said to you

Vacation with that the law slander had the same design flaw

My reaction was the pope's well it looks like we've found that in june after that it's just frustration that we had started earlier of course

When the land or enter the martian atmosphere elected to play a parachute and extend its landing weddings and there was a fire retro rockets to slow its descent to cut staff wants to land his legs touched the ground the impact was supposed to activate a sensor and shot off the retro rockets

What engineers think might have happened is that when the legs deployed during the descent a balanced in the center believe the craft had already touched down and shut off the rock it's too early to computer suffer was supposed to stop this from happening but maybe it didn't start says scientists have recently tested this idea with models of the land there they found that a juror from the parachute and the leg the plan would actually trigger the touchdown center about a third of the time

Again richards are sort of a distance it looks like in the testing that the touchdown centers did indeed a sort of like in the software to say price cuts down even though it was just like to point them every thursday to punish those who planned to fallen of us would be forced to the surface without the rocket engines people

The lander would've hit mars that forty to fifty miles an hour enough to destroy the craft search stressing that this is only one of several possibilities being investigated and he's reserving judgment until he read the official report but don baker lead engineer on a mission says his initial reaction when he heard about

The bug was a four letter word

The biggest about the grocery area and to be about democratic amendments it's too late to do anything about it and i think it was out of our control

The software bug period and perfect it doesn't explain why two basketball sized geological proved that were ejected from the crash during descent never functioned typically says it's possible they had a crater landed among rocks and he says many of his colleagues are convinced that the software bug is to blame for the lost land there i don't want to

A civil level between dole but i think uh there are people who would say we know that when these legs the platelets which prompted shut off the rocket worked

The result of the official investigation are being presented to nasa today and could be released later this month and the brakes are already being applied to nasa's faster cheaper better strategy the jet propulsion lab has told nasa headquarters they would like to delay the launch of the two thousand one mars lander mission until two thousand three things like to review the design and try to figure out exactly what went wrong with the pole and their before they try again to get tested on n. p. r. news washington

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