NASA's Mars mystery: Probe disappeared during journey to far side: ‘It is dead’

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The space agency has released stunning videos of its Perseverance Rover landing on Mars, following last week’s incredible achievement. They show the final minutes of the tense descent before the probe touched down on the surface of the Jezero Crater. It will provide vital feedback for engineers as they look to improve the technologies used to put probes on the Martian surface.

It comes after several probes have been lost during orbital insertion and the Science Channel’s ‘NASA’s Unexplained Files’ detailed how NASA was left to foot a huge bill.

Narrator Erik Dellums said: “The Red Planet has always fascinated mankind, but it is a dangerous obsession. 

“To date, over half the missions to Mars have failed.

“On December 11, 1998, a Delta 2 rocket carried NASA’s $125million (£89million) Mars Climate Orbiter on the first leg of its journey to the Red Planet.

“Nine months after its launch it decelerates as it enters Mars’ orbit and disappears behind the Red Planet.”

Planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Centre, Chris McKay, detailed what was supposed to happen.

He said: “There was a lot of anticipation that this mission would succeed, get an orbiter around Mars and help us understand the global properties of the planet.

“We expect it to be out of communication as it breaks around the far side of the planet, it’s a period of nervousness.

“We will all breathe a sigh of relief when we finally hear from it.”

But Mr Dellums revealed what actually happened.

READ MORE: ‘What are those things? Mars landing baffled NASA before ‘signs of life’ identified

But Mr Dellums explained how NASA’s mystery was solved.

He added: “The Soviet space agency loses all contact with the probe, but not before it beams back the image from its final moments.

“NASA does not believe the Mars Climate Orbiter’s fate is related to any previous incident.

“After seven weeks of investigation, NASA reveals the cause was human error.

“The probe’s computer guidance system was using US measurements and the probe was built to work with the metric system.”

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