Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tonight's Sky for August 21: NASA Loses Communication With Mars Observer (1993)


It was on this date in 1993 that NASA lost contact with its Mars Observer, launched in September, 1992 as the first NASA mission to Mars since the Vikings in 1976. Needless to say, anticipation was high thanks to the nearly 2-decade hiatus for Martian missions. Unfortunately, the mission recaptured interest in NASA for all the wrong reasons (Jimmy Buffett even poked fun at the mission failure in a song) , namely for the reason that the space agency lost communication with the orbiter just days before the planned Mars orbital insertion. However, NASA would soon return to Mars with a series of spectacularly successful missions in the coming decade.

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