Nasa tries to revive wayward spacecraft
Tuesday 24 August 1993
All communication with the craft was lost late on Saturday, 11 months after its launch last September and barely 68 hours before it was due to make the crucial entry into orbit. Scientists have had high expectations of Observer and of the information it might send home.
Officials remained hopeful that the probe, the size of a golf- cart but crammed with scientific measuring instruments, would still manoeuvre into a polar orbit over the planet today as programmed. But unless contact can be regained, no data will be transmitted to Earth and the mission will have been useless.
Under pressure from Congress and dogged by technical difficulties on its shuttle programme, Nasa - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - had been counting on Observer to help restore some of its lost prestige.
Engineers at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena were reported to be 'tense but not gloomy' as they continued their efforts to elicit some sign of life from the craft. Tactics have included firing long series of commands at its computers in the hope of some kind of response.
After its roundabout journey from Earth of 450 million miles, at a speed of 10,200mph, the craft is programmed to station itself 240 miles above the planet's surface before activating all its measuring instruments later this year. The last time scientists got a glimpse of the surface of Mars was during the twin Viking missions to the planet in the Seventies.
A wealth of information was expected from Observer, particularly on the planet's geological make-up. Scientists are keen to understand why Mars, believed to be biologically dead, is so different from Earth - roughly the same size and distance from the sun.
- 1 Windows 10: man updates PC, wakes up to find porn slideshow on repeat
- 2 The 'world's most beautiful vagina' has been debunked by science
- 3 John Green schools morning show hosts after awkward interview with Cara Delevingne
- 4 Bulletproof armadillo puts Texas man in hospital after shot bounces off hard shell
- 5 Doctors declare war on Jeremy Hunt over weekend working 'myths' amid plan for seven day NHS
Whoopi Goldberg tells Cara Delevingne to suck it up: 'She's not famous. I'M famous'
John Green schools morning show hosts after awkward interview with Cara Delevingne
Jack the Ripper's final victim set to be exhumed following new theory on the killer's identity
Supermodel Gisele Bundchen mocked for wearing a burka to avoid being seen visiting plastic surgeon in Paris
Bulletproof armadillo puts Texas man in hospital after shot bounces off hard shell
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...