Artist's depiction of the Mars Climate Orbiter.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

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

The Mars Climate Orbiter was sent to the Red Planet to study its weather. It reached the planet last Thursday morning, but there was a problem. The satellite went too far into Mars' atmosphere, and burned up!

NASA sent the orbiter to study the planet's weather for one Mars year, or 687 days. In December, another probe called the Mars Polar Lander will land on Mars to look for water. The orbiter was going to help the lander get to the surface. Now it will have to get there by itself.

Scientists have had many problems while studying Mars. The Mars Observer was lost just before reaching Mars in 1993. The Soviet Union had a launch failure that destroyed one of their probes too.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

NASA Loses Climate Orbiter (Updated!)

NASA says they caused the Mars Climate Orbiter to burn up. Scientists confused the units when finding the right orbit. The orbiter got too close to the Red Planet and blew up. The spacecraft would have...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The sky was clear and the weather was great. This was the America's 123rd manned space mission. A huge...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

Scientists found a satellite orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is the second one ever! A special telescope allows scientists to look through Earth's atmosphere. The first satellite found was Dactyl....more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

The United States wants Russia to put the service module in orbit! The module is part of the International Space Station. It was supposed to be in space over 2 years ago. Russia just sent supplies to the...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. ACE measured some exciting things as the CME material passed...more

Mother Nature's Air Conditioning

Trees and plants are a very important part of this Earth. Trees and plants are nature's air conditioning because they help keep our Earth cool. On a summer day, walking bare-foot on the sidewalk burns,...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF