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THE MARS MISSION


TMM-0012
03/04/96
For Immediate Release

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NASA FINDS 'UNTETHERED SATELLITE' HAS MAJOR UNEXPLAINED
COMPUTER PROBLEMS AFTER 'TETHER BREAK':
DISCOVERY BOOSTS MARS MISSION EXPLANATION
'FOR WHAT REALLY HAPPENED'

Scientists associated with an independent space research group, "The Mars Mission," made a revolutionary proposal yesterday: that NASA's failed $450 million "tethered satellite experiment" broke its tether Sunday evening NOT because of mechanical tether problems, but "because of long-forgotten electrical properties in space... tracing back to key physics experiments carried out over 150 years ago by one of the fathers' of modern science, Michael Faraday." NASA's newly-announced discovery of "major computer problems" on-board the now free-flying half-ton Italian satellite, and "unexplained empty fuel tanks" strongly suggests that the Mars Mission researchers got it right!

Mars Mission Founder and Principal Investigator, Richard C. Hoagland -- winner of the Angstrom Foundation's 1993 First International Angstrom Medal for Excellence in Science -- had this to say about NASA's latest announcement:

"In our model, we are predicting that NASA will find that a severe voltage spike' occurred -- tens of thousands of volts -- just as the tether broke; this will be due to the major (unanticipated) charge build-up, occurring between the satellite and shuttle (which, according to NASA, was deliberately ungrounded for four minutes, at that precise moment) just at sunset. This simply caused a catastrophic electrical arc-over, from the tether to the tower in the payload bay, literally frying the tether -- which then just pulled apart (due to the significant tension forces from the deployed satellite, moving in a higher, slower orbit, over 12 miles above the shuttle)."

Hoagland continued:

"As we pointed out yesterday, this is not the first time this has happened to a NASA spacecraft. Now that NASA is reporting that the computer on-board the Italian satellite was fried," and the fuel on-board mysteriously depleted, this is looking less and less like a mechanical break' in the tether . . . and more and more what we think it is -- an eerie rerun of the same electrical weirdness' that struck the unmanned Voyager 2 spacecraft fifteen years ago, in 1981 -- as it flew too close to Saturn."

According to Hoagland, NASA published at that time a detailed description of the problems with Voyager 2 at Saturn, written by a key mission scientist, Dr. David Morrison; the official NASA record is called "Voyages to Saturn" [NASA Headquarters (1982) NASA SP-451]. Says Hoagland:

"Apparently no one else in NASA read it. And if they did, they didn't connect the bizarre electrical properties of space they encountered out at Saturn... with a manned space shuttle's "towed satellite experiment" they planned to conduct in near-earth space years later. And certainly, no NASA physicists seem to have remembered these key 150-year-old Faraday experiments in basic electrical physics -- which, in our opinion, now hold the clues to what went wrong on Sunday night; these latest NASA findings on the separate and simultaneous satellite electrical malfunction almost cinch it. "

According to NASA's fifteen-year-old "Voyages to Saturn":

"...August 26, 1981 ... As the Voyager spacecraft reemerged from behind Saturn [11:58 p.m.], its radio signals were received at the Deep Space Network Station in Australia and transmitted directly to JPL [NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena] ... mission managers and engineers watched the signal carefully to make sure that all went well ... Their initial delight at the reacquisition of the signal quickly turned to worry and despair. The telemetry signals were not normal, with several instruments showing unexplained and peculiar transmissions. Engineering data indicated that near ring plane crossing the small control thrusters on the spacecraft had made several unprogrammed and unexpected firings. Worst of all, the scan platform, with its cameras and spectrometers, was not pointed where it was supposed to be ... As more engineering data from Voyager accumulated, it became evident that the scan platform had frozen in its back-and-forth, or azimuth, motion ... Unfortunately, it had stopped in a place where sensitive instruments could be damaged by sunlight; thus ... at about 2 a.m. [August 27], instructions [were transmitted] to move the scan platform to a safe position ... By 6 a.m. it was apparent that the spacecraft had responded ... and that the initial problems with other systems had apparently repaired themselves, leaving only the scan platform to be dealt with ... At 9 a.m. the critical playback from the on-board tape recorder began ... Even after the tape recordings had been received, it was still not evident how the failure had occurred. It did not appear to be a discrete event associated with the ring plane, but rather a progressive degradation of the capability of the scan platform to move as directed. One could not even be sure that the problem really was with the hardware, as opposed to the [computer] software that provided the commands to the scan platform ... At the 2 p.m. science meeting, the most spectacular results [from the tape playback] were presented by Fred Scarf [Principal Investigator of the Voyager Plasma Wave Experiment]. Very close to the time of ring plane crossing, the plasma wave instrument recorded activity a million times the normal energy level. The high frequency of the signal proved that it could not be ordinary plasma waves, but more likely an electrical phenomenon taking place at the spacecraft ... The roaring sound ... on the tape ... sounding almost like a hailstorm striking a tin roof, sent chills down the spines of the seventy-five scientists attending the meeting. But did this unexpected plasma activity really have anything to do with the scan platform failure? No one could tell [emphasis added]..."

According to Hoagland, this variety of reported systems failures aboard Voyager at the time of Saturn ring plane crossing, fifteen years ago -- which later, mysteriously "repaired themselves" -- bears a striking resemblance now to what NASA is currently reporting -- re the ill-health of its former "tethered satellite," now orbiting the Earth. And, says Hoagland, both seem traceable to the same cause:

"The profound, totally-unappreciated, critical effects of a long-forgotten physics... that NASA obviously needs to know..."




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Copyright 1996 - 2013 Richard C. Hoagland+ All Rights Reserved