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Programming Error Doomed Russian Mars Probe 276

astroengine writes "So it turns out U.S. radars weren't to blame for the unfortunate demise of Russia's Phobos-Grunt Mars sample return mission — it was a computer programming error that doomed the probe, a government board investigating the accident has determined." According to the Planetary Society Blog's unofficial translation and paraphrasing of the incident report, "The spacecraft computer failed when two of the chips in the electronics suffered radiation damage. (The Russians say that radiation damage is the most likely cause, but the spacecraft was still in low Earth orbit beneath the radiation belts.) Whatever triggered the chip failure, the ultimate cause was the use of non-space-qualified electronic components. When the chips failed, the on-board computer program crashed."

"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg