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Hopes fade for missing Mars Global Surveyor

Hopes fade for missing Mars Global Surveyor
Donald Melanson
Donald Melanson|@donmelanson|November 23, 2006 1:11 AM
Break out the tissues fellow space nerds, for it seems our precious Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft has finally fallen silent after long outlasting its life expectancy and, in all likelihood, will not be heard from again. The first sign of trouble came on November 2nd, when the spacecraft reported problems adjusting one of its solar panels -- its only other contact since came on November 5th, when the MGS let out a faint, final signal. (Are you sobbing yet?) Attempts to subsequently locate the craft with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have turned up nothing, with a last ditch effort now planned to listen for the craft's radio beacon using the Opportunity rover on the planet's surface. NASA scientists, however, are not optimistic about their prospects, saying that even if they were able to locate the spacecraft, attempting to fix the problem could actually make things worse. Despite losing contact, NASA says the spacecraft should continue to silently orbit the planet for about 40 years, after which it will finally succumb to the harshness of space and plunge into Mars' atmosphere. So long, MGS. You showed 'em how it's done.
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