Mars Climate Orbiter Mission Status
24 Sep 1999
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
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Flight controllers for NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter are planning to abandon the search for the spacecraft at 3 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time today. The team has been using the 70- meter-diameter (230-foot) antennas of the Deep Space Network in an attempt to regain contact with the spacecraft.
Engineers now estimate that the altitude of the spacecraft's closest approach to Mars as it was firing its engine to enter orbit around the planet was 57 kilometers (35 miles). The original target altitude had been about 140 kilometers (about 90 miles). The spacecraft team estimates that the minimum survivable altitude for the spacecraft was between 85 and 100 kilometers (about 53 to 62 miles).
The project is moving swiftly to determine the causes of this error, assisted by an internal review team. Expert independent review teams are being formed by JPL and NASA.
Mars Climate Orbiter is one of a series of missions in a long-term program of Mars exploration known as the Mars Surveyor Program that is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.