Report Reveals Likely Causes of Mars Spacecraft Loss NASA

After studying Mars four times as long as originally planned, NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter appears to have succumbed to battery failure caused by a complex sequence of events involving the onboard computer memory and ground commands.
The causes were released today in a preliminary report by an internal review board. The board was formed to look more in-depth into why NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor went silent in November 2006 and recommend any processes or procedures that could increase safety for other spacecraft.
Mars Global Surveyor last communicated with Earth on Nov. 2, 2006. Within 11 hours, depleted batteries likely left the spacecraft unable to control its orientation.
“The loss of the spacecraft was the result of a series of events linked to a computer error made five months before the likely battery failure,” said board Chairperson Dolly Perkins, deputy director-technical of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.