A scientific study of the problems of
digital engineering for space flight systems,
with a view to their practical solution.
2002 MAPLD International Conference Panel
Wednesday Evening, September 11, 2002
Why Is Mars So Hard?
A Discussion of the Technical, Programmatic, and Political Factors
That Have Lead To Failures at Mars over the Last 40 Years
Both the United States and USSR/Russian Programs Have Had Many Failures at Mars.
A pair of USSR missions, Phobos I and II, both failed. Phobos I failed with a bad command sent to the spacecraft, turning off its attitude control system (the checking ground computer was busted). Phobos II failed with its TMR logic - one computer dead, the other sick, the good one couldn't outvote the other two.
A pair of US missions, Mars Climate Observer and Mars Polar Lander, both failed. MCO failed with bad commands sent to the spacecraft, causing it to crash into the planet (the ground computer's software was faulty - metric-English units error). MPL failed with its erroneous landing logic - the computer thought it had landed and shut off the thrusters. [And the two "lawn darts" were never heard from].
What can we do to avoid The Great Galactic Ghoul?
Why is the failure rate at Mars, especially over the past decade, so high? Is it the human element or the environment?
Should we return to the Moon first before or after a human Mars exploration mission? Who can present the better case, the "Lunatics" or the "Martians?"
Points 2 and 3 seem to show some parallelism in results and failure modes. Were there common causes for this? Are the lessons learned (or relearned) similar? Can we forsee a manned expedition in our lifetime? Let's find out. My kids want to go to Mars and look for fossils. What do I tell them?
Pictures from the Panel Session
Panel Moderator: Dr. Rod Barto (Bio)
Spacecraft Digital Electronics
Review of the Mars Odyssey Red Team Review
Introduction: Dr. Roger Launius (Bio)
NASA Chief Historian
Chair, Dept. of Space History, National Air and Space Museum
"A Historical Perspective"
|Dr. Ed Euler||Lockheed Martin Astronautics Operations|
|Orlando Figueroa (bio)||Director, Mars Exploration Program Office, NASA|
|Dr. Stamatios M. (Tom) Krimigis (bio)||Head, Space Department
Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Lab
|Ken Ledbetter (bio)||Executive Director for Programs in the Office of Space Science (OSS) at NASA Headquarters|
|James Oberg (bio)||Soaring Hawk Productions, Inc. (Consultant and Author)|
|Anthony Spear (bio)||JPL, Chair, NASA Faster, Better, Cheaper (FBC)
Mars Pathfinder Project Manager, Magellan Project Manager
|Dr. Robert Zubrin (bio)||President, Mars Society|
Some reference material:
The Difficult Road to Mars
A Brief History of Mars Exploration in the Soviet Union
Monographs in Aerospace History, Number 15, July 1999
Humans to Mars
Fifty Years of Mission Planning, 1950-2000
David S. F. Portree
Monographs in Aerospace History, Number 21, February 2001
More information at: Romance to Reality: Moon & Mars Mission Plans
Highlights from the 2001 MAPLD International Conference Panel
Panel Moderator: Dr. Rod Barto, Spacecraft Digital Electronics
Harry Ames, Systems Dynamics Laboratory, Utah State University
Ray Andraka, Andraka Consulting Group, Inc.
Kevin Hames, NASA Johnson Space Center
C. Michael Holloway, NASA Langley Research Center
Choon I. Lee, California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Al Taylor, Medical Electronics Branch, Food and Drug Administration
We invite your participation in our Panel Session.
Richard B. Katz
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Last Revised: February 03, 2010
Digital Engineering Institute
Web Grunt: Richard Katz