Feeds

Missing Mars lander shows up in old pics

Amazing what a bit of image analysis can do

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
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.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.