Feeds

Missing Mars lander shows up in old pics

Amazing what a bit of image analysis can do

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

An imaging scientist believes that he has found NASA's failed Mars Polar Lander after re-examining pictures of the Martian surface taken in 1999-2000.

The likely crash site was found by scientists at Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), the company that operates the main camera on board the Mars Global Surveyor.

Michael Malin, president and chief scientist of MSSS, has published the findings in the July issue of Sky and Telescope Magazine. He says that his search was prompted by the recent use of images from the Mars Global Surveyor to locate the rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

The NASA mission is thought to have crashed during its descent in 1999, when a software error caused the landing rockets to shut down too soon, a theory supported by this new visual evidence. The system is thought to have confused the vibration of a landing leg deploying with the impact of landing. When the lander rockets cut out, the craft would have been some 40m above the ground.

Malin says he has also located what looks like the lander's parachute in the vicinity of the possible landing site.

He writes: "It seems that the MPL investigation board may have been correct. MPL's descent proceeded more or less successfully through atmospheric entry and parachute jettison. It was only a few short moments before touchdown that disaster struck.

"The observation of a single, small dot at the centre of the disturbed location suggests that the vehicle remained more or less intact after its fall."

Malin now plans to send the Global Surveyor back tot he site to re-image it at a higher resolution. You can read more, and check out the pictures on the BBC News site, here. ®

Related stories

Mars Express starts unfurling radar booms
Europe will land on Mars in 2013
NASA takes alien hunt to Mexico

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.