January 22, 2005

Things often work better when you turn them on

First seen at Naked Villany, and I googled up a link to the story here.

On Thursday, Idaho scientist David Atkinson said that someone failed to turn on a radio receiver for the instrument he needed to measure the winds on Saturn's largest moon. Because of that error, data transmitted by the gear on the Huygens lander was not received by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft for relay to Earth.

Oops. It doesn't specifically say, but since the Huygens probe was ESA's baby, I don't think this was a NASA goof. In fact, this sort of thing is exactly why NASA goes overboard with the checklists. Except that it's not going overboard if you prevent things like this from happening.

Atkinson spent 18 years designing the experiment for the unmanned space mission to Saturn. He did say Thursday there was a chance that some of the data that was beamed toward Cassini could be picked up on Earth.

Ouch. Fortunately, according to the story most of the data was recovered.

Getting back to the checklist thingy. I imagine that the ESA (and every other space program) goes to the same lengths as NASA regarding checklists and procedure manuals. I'd bet that the checklist item to send that command was forgotten or lost somewhere along the line and so wasn't present to be performed during the execution of that particular series of commands. Trust me, nobody *forgets* something like that.

Posted by Ted at January 22, 2005 07:09 PM
Category: Space Program

Deserving of a "d'oh!"

Posted by: Chase at January 22, 2005 10:01 PM

or an "Ach du leiber?!"

Posted by: Tuning Spork at January 23, 2005 05:33 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Site Meter