Feeds

Missing Mars lander shows up in old pics

Amazing what a bit of image analysis can do

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.