Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Scientists Veto Reboot Plan for Mars Probe

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Scientists Veto Reboot Plan for Mars Probe

Article excerpt

SCIENTISTS still want to talk with the missing Mars Observer spacecraft, but they think that trying to restart its central computer is too risky.

A proposal to restart or "reboot" the computer was rejected on Aug. 30 by project scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

In a written statement, JPL said restarting the Mars Observer computer would pose an unnecessary risk to telecommunications with other spacecraft.

NASA, which last heard from the craft Aug. 21, continued to send messages in hopes of salvaging the $980 million mission.

Had the reboot command been given, the Mars Observer spacecraft would have been expected to communicate with JPL after a 65-hour waiting period.

Some outside analysts have speculated that the Mars spacecraft has exploded.

But NASA has maintained that the craft was silenced by the failure of transistors in a central clock, and that the probe probably started orbiting Mars as planned.

Mars Observer was launched Sept. 25 on a 450-million-mile journey. It was to be the first new United States exploration of Mars since the twin Viking orbiters and their landers reached the planet 17 years ago. …

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