Mars Climate Orbiter

Topics: Metric system, Kilogram, Units of measurement Pages: 3 (896 words) Published: April 30, 2008
Mars Climate Orbiter

As science progresses through the 21st century, our race must not totally forgo the hard work and dedication past scientists have put in to developing standards and models that everyone can use worldwide. Hundreds of years ago, scientists worked to create methods of classifying and interpreting data that could be read and understood by people universally. In September of 1999, scientists at NASA lost contact with a multi-million dollar project during an atmospheric entry to mars all because of a human error. Scientists from different fields came together to design and program the Mars Climate Orbiter, but did not utilize a universal measuring system for the entire project. This confusion should not have happened because of the man-hours put in by scientists hundreds of years ago. All scientists, early in their education, are taught units help interpret numbers. In the NASA project, scientist excluded units and used the metric system in part of the software and then the imperial system in the rest of the software. Therefore, the computers in the spacecraft were not programmed to convert newtons into pounds, or vice versa. The crash of the Mars Climate Orbiter directly relates to its inability to distinguish between the metric system and the imperial system. The metric system prevails in America’s school systems when children begin science and learn about the scientific method. The metric system bases its values on properties of one hundred. The history of the metric system dates back to the 18th century. The goal of the metric system was to unify measurements across the continent so that people could communicate numbers accurately. In 1799 the first proclamation became in order in France, when the prototype kilogram and the prototype metre were held in the archives to ensure a universally defined weight and length. This system was not accepted at first because of the trouble people had with converting their measurements to metric....