The Measurement Mess - #5645
Friday, August 29, 2008
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NASA had high hopes for their first Mars orbiter - it would make possible some exciting new research into the Red Planet. They were stunned when suddenly, without warning, they lost the Mars orbiter in deep space. After the initial shock, NASA tried to determine what went wrong. The answer was almost as alarming as losing the orbiter itself. The fatal malfunction turns out it was the result of a tragic error in calculations - bad math doomed the Mars craft. One set of engineers had worked with English measurements, while another set of engineers did their calculations by the metric system!