Mars Climate OrbiterMars Climate Orbiter (formerly Mars Surveyor 98Orbiter) studies the Martian weather, climate, andwater and carbon dioxide budget, in order tounderstand the reservoirs, behavior, andatmospheric role of volatiles and to search forevidence of long-term and episodic climate changes.The Mars Climate Orbiter was destroyed when anavigation error caused it to miss its target altitude atMars by 80 to 90 km, instead entering the Martianatmosphere at an altitude of 57 km during the orbitinsertion maneuver. Nation that United States of Launched: AmericaThe Orbiter has as its primary science objectives to: Operator: NASA Equipment: MARCI and monitor the daily weather and atmospheric PMIRR conditions; record changes on the Martian surface due to wind and other atmospheric effects; determine temperature profiles of the atmosphere; monitor the water vapor and dust content of the atmosphere and look for evidence of past climate change.Specifically it will observe and study dust storms, weather systems, clouds and dust hazes,ozone, distribution and transport of dust and water, the effects of topography onatmospheric circulation, atmospheric response to solar heating, and surface features, windstreaks, erosion, and color changes. The orbiter will use two instruments to carry out theseinvestigations: The Mars Climate Orbiter Color Imager (MARCI) will acquire daily atmospheric weather images and high resolution surface images and the Pressure Modulated Infrared Radiometer (PMIRR) will allow measurement of theatmospheric temperature, water vapor abundance, and dust concentration.The Mars Climate Orbiter was successfully launched on a Delta II launchvehicle from Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida onDecember 11, 1998."The root cause of the loss of the spacecraft was the failed translation of English units intometric units in a segment of ground-based, navigation-related mission software, as NASAhas previously announced," said Arthur Stephenson, chairman of the Mars Climate OrbiterMission Failure Investigation Board. "The failure review board has identified othersignificant factors that allowed this error to be born, and then let it linger and propagate tothe point where it resulted in a major error in our understanding of the spacecrafts path asit approached Mars.
errors went undetected within ground-based computer models of how smallthruster firings on the spacecraft were predicted and then carried out on thespacecraft during its interplanetary trip to Marsthe operational navigation team was not fully informed on the details of the waythat Mars Climate Orbiter was pointed in space, as compared to the earlier MarsGlobal Surveyor missiona final, optional engine firing to raise the spacecraft’s path relative to Mars before itsarrival was considered but not performed for several interdependent reasonsthe systems engineering function within the project that is supposed to track anddouble-check all interconnected aspects of the mission was not robust enough,exacerbated by the first-time handover of a Mars-bound spacecraft from a groupthat constructed it and launched it to a new, multi-mission operations teamsome communications channels among project engineering groups were tooinformalthe small mission navigation team was oversubscribed and its work did not receivepeer review by independent expertspersonnel were not trained sufficiently in areas such as the relationship betweenthe operation of the mission and its detailed navigational characteristics, or theprocess of filing formal anomaly reportsthe process to verify and validate certain engineering requirements and technicalinterfaces between some project groups, and between the project and its primemission contractor, was inadequate