bummer, dude

David Atkinson spent 18 years designing an experiment for the unmanned space mission to Saturn. Now some pieces of it are lost in space. Someone forgot to turn on the instrument Atkinson needed to measure the winds on Saturn's largest moon.

"In total, the core of our team has invested something like 80 man years on this experiment, 18 of which are mine," Atkinson wrote. "I think right now the key lesson is this - if you're looking for a job with instant and guaranteed success, this isn't it."

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6 Responses:

  1. sparklewench says:

    this kind of thing makes me feel much better about the mistakes I make working on my thesis!

  2. vincel says:

    If I hear that description one more time of the surface of Huygens' landing site as being like crème brulée, then I think I'm going to be sick.

  3. nothings says:

    While this particular incident is stupid, Atkinson's comments are bewildering. Surely this lesson could have been learned, say, 12 years ago, when the Mars Observer was lost, or more recently with the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander.

    The number of people who deserve to get to whine about years and years of lost effort was no doubt higher in those cases as well.

  4. decibel45 says:

    What's amazing is that they were still able to gather wind data based on the doppler shift in the signal as measured here on Earth. Something like 700 million miles away, and they're able to calculate wind speeds to an accuracy of 2.4MPH.