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NASA Orbiter Exploded Based on Wrong Assumption

On December 11, 1998, NASA launched the Mars Climate Orbiter. It was a highly advanced piece of technology that cost $327 million. The data it gathered would open new doors for planetary science. But instead, the orbiter exploded. It launched successfully, but as soon as it arrived in Martian orbit, radio contact was lost—permanently

NASA scientists eventually realized what had gone wrong. The Orbiter had been a sophisticated piece of technology, programmed with software in triplicate to avoid any chances of miscalculation or error. All of its components coordinated perfectly, except one. NASA had purchased a certain piece of software from a US aerospace company. This would not have been a problem except that NASA used the metric system for all its instruments and software, but this firm’s technology did not.

Measures of acceleration that NASA’s instruments were reading as newtons (metric) had been provided instead as pound force-seconds. The ensuing miscalculation forced the Orbiter to fly much closer to Mars than it should have. This miracle of space engineering ended up meeting its untimely demise in the planet’s upper atmosphere. The great loss was caused by a very human error: a wrong assumption. The scientists at NASA designed the Orbiter to be based on the metric system and they assumed that all subcomponents would be as well.

Possible Preaching Angles:

Attributes of God; False beliefs; God, nature of; Human Nature – Spiritually speaking, we can also get drastically off course and even self-destruct when we believe false assumptions about the character of God or the abilities of our own human nature.

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