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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Farewell Mars Global Surveyor

Early in the month NASA lost contact with the Mars Global Surveyor, in orbit about Mars, and this week stated that they have little hope of regaining it.

The MGS was launched 10 years ago, and had been fully active about Mars for over six, three times its official mission life of two years. There had been concerns ever since its launch about one of its solar panels, which deployed with rather more "snap" than intended, leading to worries about itssupport struts. It's likely that this panel has becomed jammed and unable to track the Sun, leading to lack of power for the spacecraft to operate.

They tried to take some pictures of it with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, another spacecraft currently at Mars (its so neat to have multiple Mars missions going on), to determine its orientation, but they haven't found it yet. Which leads me to think that the Martians finally got it.

In any case, it'll be saying farewell too soon to a friend, but one that's provided a wealth of data about the Red Planet.

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Wow, has it really been six years? It doesn't seem like it.

It probably saw something it shouldn't have.

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