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Artist's depiction of the Mars Climate Orbiter.
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Courtesy of NASA

NASA Loses Climate Orbiter
News story originally written on September 27, 1999

Last Thursday was supposed to be a great one for NASA, but turned out to be a disaster. The Mars Climate Orbiter was scheduled to begin its orbit around the Red Planet early that morning. However, during an engine firing that would have sent the craft into orbit, the probe travelled too close to the planet. Scientists believe the spacecraft burned up in Mars' atmosphere.

The probe was expected to study Mars' climate for one Mars year, or 687 days. Along with The Mars Polar Lander, the orbiter may have proven that water exists on the neighboring planet. Now, even the Polar Lander mission is in trouble.

This is just the latest setback in our exploration of Mars. In 1993, the Mars Observer was lost shortly before reaching Mars. A similar mission in the Soviet Union was also lost during a launch failure.

NASA says the lose of one probe will not change any of their plans. More spacecraft will still be sent to the Red Planet.

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