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Mars Probe Article

> Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 17:08:09 -0400
> From: Daniel Schultz <n8fgv@amsat.org>
> Subject: RE: [amsat-bb] Re: Re: Notation of Time...
> Engineers in the USA need to be fully conversant in both measurement
> systems. Mars Climate Orbiter (not Polar Lander) was the victim of a bad
> Interface Control Document between Lockheed and JPL as well as poor
> management practices (the people who discovered the problem ahead of
> time were ignored). ...

I highly recommend James Oberg's article "Why the Mars Probe went
off course" in the December 1999 issue of IEEE Spectrum, also
available online at:


In addition to fascinating details about the Mars Climate Observer, the
article contains stimulating commentary on the challenges of managing
large, technically complex projects (like designing, building,
launching and operating satellites, of course).

(An alternative reading of the article, presumably by EEs and MEs,
might conclude that the failure of the Mars probe should be blamed
on programmers, rather than managers...)

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