Although it lasted years longer than anyone ever expected, the disappearance of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft is still a mystery the agency wants to investigate. The agency has created an internal review board to review the spacecraft's final days and recommend any new processes or policies that could improve future spacecraft.
Mars Global Surveyor was launched in 1996 to the Red planet on a two year mission. It went on to last more than 9 years, and captured many more images than anticipated. It made many discoveries, including evidence for recent water acting on the surface of the planet.
Ground controllers received a message on November 2, 2006 that one of its solar arrays wasn't pivoting correctly. One orbit later, NASA lost contact altogether.
Panel Will Study Mars Global Surveyor Events January 10, 2007
NASA has formed an internal review board to look more in-depth into why NASA's Mars Global Surveyor went silent in November 2006 and recommend any processes or procedures that could increase safety for other spacecraft.
Mars Global Surveyor launched in 1996 on a mission designed to study Mars from orbit for two years. It accomplished many important discoveries during nine years in orbit. On Nov. 2, the spacecraft transmitted information that one of its arrays was not pivoting as commanded. Loss of signal from the orbiter began on the following orbit.
Mars Global Surveyor has operated longer at Mars than any other spacecraft in history and for more than four times as long as the prime mission originally planned.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages Mars Global Surveyor for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, developed and operates the spacecraft.
Information about the mission is available on the Internet at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mgs/index.html.
Original Source: NASA/JPL News Release