WASHINGTON NASA said Thursday (Sept. 30) that a mix-up over units of measurement led to last week's loss of the $125 million Mars Orbiter.
According to NASA officials, a team at contractor Lockheed Martin, which built the Orbiter, used English units of measurement to calculate a critical burn to place the satellite in orbit around Mars. However, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent the command in metric units.
The snafu lowered the spacecraft's orbit, dropping it into the Martian atmosphere and causing the crash.
In a statement issued Thursday, frequent NASA critic Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Science Committee, said, "I'm speechless."