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The Mars Global Surveyor reached Mars on 11 September 1997

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Anniversary of the Mars Global Surveyor Launch in 1996



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Mars Global Surveyor
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The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida on 7 November 1996 aboard a Delta II rocket. The spacecraft travelled nearly 750 million kilometres over the course of a 300-day cruise to reach Mars on 11 September 1997.
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Earth, Moon, and Jupiter, as Seen From Mars

Earth and Jupiter
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Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

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The Dotted Dunes of Mars
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What causes the black dots on dunes on Mars? As spring dawned on the Northern Hemisphere of Mars in 2004, dunes of sand near the poles begin to defrost. Thinner regions of ice typically thaw first revealing sand whose darkness soaks in sunlight and accelerates the thaw. The process might involve sandy jets exploding through the thinning ice. By summer, the spots expanded to encompass the entire dunes that were then completely thawed and dark. The carbon dioxide and water ice actually sublime in the thin atmosphere directly to gas. Taken in mid-July, the above image shows a field of spotted polar dunes spanning about 3 kilometres near the Martian North Pole. Today, the future of Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity remains unknown windy dust storms continue to starve them of needed sunlight.

1023032666_c54ca66936_m.jpg
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NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This image is located near 82.8°N, 219.6°W.

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Faulty software was responsible for the loss of the Mars Global Surveyor late last year, a NASA review board announced Friday.
Confirming previous speculation, the board said Global Surveyor's loss was likely due to faulty computer code uploaded five months before, which ultimately caused the spacecrafts battery to overheat.


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A preliminary report released has blamed human error that lead to a series of events that eventually  caused the battery to fail on the Mars Global Surveyor last year.
A routine technical update, using incorrect software commands,  to the onboard computers caused that the spacecraft to disable its solar panels and create consistencies in the spacecraft's memory.
NASA engineers eventually sent up a fateful command  to the spacecraft to reposition its solar panels, but this caused the battery to overheat and the spacecraft lost power.

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A Software Error Doomed The Mars Global Surveyor

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Present-Day Impact Cratering on Mars
MGS MOC Releases MOC2-1611 through MOC2-1617, 6 December 2006

impact9023_a_full
Credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

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