Why did the Mars Observer fail?

On August 22, 1993, just days before the Mars Observer spacecraft was to enter orbit around Mars, it lost contact with the bases here on Earth. The $400 million spacecraft with an estimated overall project cost of $1 billion was designed to study and photograph the Martian surface, but ended in failure.

Following the success of the Mariner programme in the 1960s and early 70s, the Viking programme was the U.S.'s next foray towards our neighbouring planet, Mars. After the probes Viking 1 and Viking 2 successfully landed on the red planet in 1976, over a decade went by before America's next mission to Mars. That came in the way of the Mars Observer, which was launched in 1992 and had things going well until its ill-fated end.

The mid-1980s saw a high priority mission to Mars being planned to act and expand on the information already assimilated by the Viking programme. With the preliminary mission goals of studying and taking high-resolution photographs of the Martian surface, the Mars Observer spacecraft was initially to be launched in 1990, before being rescheduled to 1992.

Based on Earth-orbiting spacecraft

Based on a commercial Earth-orbiting communications satellite that had been converted into an orbiter for Mars, the spacecraft was built at a cost of $400 million. The payload was made up of a variety of instruments that included a Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS), Pressure Modulator Infrared Radiometer (PMIRR), Thermal Emissions Spectrometer (TES), Mars Observer Camera (MOC), and Mars Balloon Relay (MBR) among others.

The specific objectives of the mission were to find out the elemental characteristics of the Martian surface: defining Mars topography and gravitational field: establishing the nature of Mars magnetic field finding out the distribution and sources of dust and volatile material over a seasonal cycle: and exploring the Martian abmosphere. The MBR was designed to receive information from the planned Mars Balloon Experiment to be carried by a Russian mission for retransmission back to Earth.

Contact lost

The Mars Observer was expected to achieve all this by orbiting the planet for one Martian year (687 Earth days), giving it a chance to observe the planet through the different seasons. The science instruments in the payload were thus designed to study the geology, climate, and geophysics of Mars.

Following a successful launch on September 25, 1992, Mars Observer was scheduled to perform an orbital insertion manoeuvre 11 months later on August 24, 1993. Just days before it, however, on August 22, 1993, communication was lost with the spacecraft even as it was preparing to enter orbit.

When the Mars Observer failed to respond to messages radioed by the ground controllers here on Earth, further efforts to communicate were made-once every 20 minutes. Even though they were met with silence, further attempts were made, less regularly, until the mission was declared a loss on September 27, 1993 and no further attempts to contact were made after that

Propulsion system failure

In 1994, an independent board from the Naval Research Laboratory announced their findings regarding the failure. They suggested that the most probable cause of the communications failure must be a rupture of the fuel pressurisation tank in the propulsion system of the spacecraft

Regardless of what the reason was, an estimated cost of $1 billion, which included the price of the spacecraft along with the costs of space shuttle launching and processing of scientific data was lost. While the science instruments were reflown on two other orbiters, Mars Global Surveyor and 2001 Mars Odyssey, there is no telling if Mars Observer followed the automatic programming to go into Mars orbit flew by the planet, or even if it continues to operate.

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I'm an S.Y.B.A. (Sociology) student. What are my career options after I graduate?

The study of sociology offers valuable preparation for careers in law, journalism, business, social work, counselling, politics, public relations, public administration and other related disciplines. These fields require the conceptual and skill-based training that comes from undertaking a degree in sociology.

With a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, you will be employed in businesses, which deal with social programmes and their implementation. Sociology is also one of the few sought after optional for the aspirants of the prestigious Civil Services Examination.

After earning a Master's degree, you will be involved in conducting surveys, gathering data and evaluating the efficacy of different kinds of social and welfare programmes. This way, you help the companies to plan for the future, deal with organizational re structuring and downsizing and conduct market research for advertisers and manufactures.

Sociologists extensively use statistical and computer techniques in their research, along with qualitative methods such as focus group research and social impact assessment.

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I want to become a Vyomnaut but also serve in the air force

I'm a student of class 9 and I do well with Physics, Maths and Chemistry academically as well as being physically fit and playing sports. I want to become a Vyomnaut but also serve in the air force. I am thinking of taking PCM and pursuing Aeronautics after the 12th, then enter the Indian Air Force via AFCAT, apply at ISRO and see where that will lead me. What should I do?

If you want to become a Vyomnaut (astronaut), the Indian Air Force is the right choice. However, be aware that you may never become an astronaut, even if you join the air force and meet all the requirements. The reason being that India doesn't have any active astronaut programme, and not even any deployment of astronauts on missions on a regular basis.

When any manned mission is planned, ISRO reaches out to the air force who select a handful of their best pilots and train them for the mission. Of these, one or two will get a chance to go to space.

For the country's maiden manned Gaganyaan, the Indian Air Force (IAF) shortlisted 200 IAF fighter pilots. They were apparently given a questionnaire to solve by ISRO, after which they were subjected to physical examinations like cardiac, neural, dental, opthalmologic, psychologic and ENT. Out of 200 pilots only four were selected for the mission. They are further being trained by ISRO in rescue and recovery operations, surviving in zero gravity situations, centrifuge training, study of radiation environment and for long journey in space through water simulation.

AFCAT (Air Force Common Admission Test) is conducted by the Indian Air Force. The exam is held twice a year to recruit candidates as Class-I Gazetted Officers in Flying and Ground Duties (Technical and Non-Technical). For the Flying branch, eligibility is B.Sc/B.Tech.

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I want to be a chef

I want to pursue a culinary course in India with all kinds of Indian and international cuisines, so that I may work abroad as a chef. I want to know more about the possibilities of culinary studies in India and internationally-valid certificates. I also want to know about B.Voc. (Culinary). What is the advantage of pursuing a B.Voc. (Culinary) degree? This is my life's dream. Please help me take the necessary steps for further studies and help me secure my future.

Embedded with enormous perks and benefits, being a chef lets you unleash your creativity with the art of cookery. But initial stages are very challenging; the long hours, physical demands, and a low starting salary can be a difficult pill to swallow.

A Bachelor of Culinary Arts degree is the first step towards becoming a chef. Courses may include nutrition, culinary techniques, butchery, pastry preparation, and regional or specialty cuisine topics. You also have mandatorily internships/apprenticeships as a part of the curriculum.

If you are looking to study culinary courses abroad or explore career opportunities, English language tests like TOEFL or IELTS are compulsory. The major drawback of working in countries like the U.S.A. is that most companies often prefer educational qualifications from the same country.

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I want to be a writer

I am a 12th grader. I love writing and am able to write something original. But what if writing or journalism isn't for me? What should I do? I am trying to find my interest. I need some tips and suggestions.

If you like writing, and it comes to you without much effort, then that is a clear indication that you're really interested in it. In this field, personal qualities rather than training are more important for becoming a good journalist. Good writing skills, resourcefulness, an inquiring and communicative nature, are essential.

There are two ways to pursue this field: after 10+2 (any stream), you can join a Bachelor's course in Mass Communication in which journalism is also taught. Or you can join a PG diploma course in Journalism after graduation (any stream).

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I want to make a career in wildlife and marine biology

I am a student of Class 10 about to enter Class 11. I am interested in wildlife and marine biology and want to make a career in both. Is it possible for me to be both a wildlife and a marine biologist? If so, please guide me as to which field to opt for in Class 11 and what I need to do after that.

Both fields are related and till graduation the courses are the same. Start with Physics, Chemistry and Biology in 10+2, followed by B.Sc. (Hons) in Biological sciences. Study covers a wide variety of subjects such as biochemistry, pathology, ecology, anatomy, ocean farming, development, reproduction, parasitology, conservation, etc. By that time, you will have a better idea about your interest. Later, you can go for 2 years M. Sc. in Marine Biology or Wildlife.

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Lets solute to indian army forces

Join the navy, see the world!' I was very fascinated by this ad with images of an Indian naval ship and a sailor in a white uniform in the local newspapers in the year 1986. Those days, there was no internet and we would get to know about recruitment in the armed forces through recruitment rallies or ads. The selection process was robust; only the physically, mentally, medically and academically fit could get through.

Joining the Indian Navy was a dream come true for me. At first, my parents were against the idea as they knew that joining the armed forces was a risky affair and soldiers get killed during encounters and wars. Somehow I managed to convince them and I went for the recruitment rally and got selected.

Youngsters join the armed forces for different reasons; attracted by the uniform, promising career, the pay and perks, opportunities of travelling, the social prestige, to support their family, etc. But from the day we wear that prestigious uniform we all have just one reason; Service before Self. We forget all our differences of Let the religion, caste, creed, language, state and we proudly call ourselves the Indian Armed Forces (IAF). We learn to embrace the differences and live in harmony to serve our nation.

Of course, it requires a lot of sacrifice on our part as we join the armed forces at a very young age; service becomes our priority and everything else becomes secondary. While those of our age enjoy college life, we are getting grilled during our training. Of course, the rigorous training made us disciplined, courageous, confident, gritty and agile. Many a time, we didn't get leave when we wanted, we got transferred to places far from home every three years, and we had to leave our family behind and sail for months. Even while on leave, I was recalled a few times for operational requirements. Yes, it's definitely a Service before Self in every sense. We didn't have any employees unions or associations to call for a strike or fight for our rights; we just obeyed the orders from our superiors because that's how we were trained. I proudly served the Indian Navy for 15 long years as an Anti Submarine Warfare sailor and retired in 2002 in the rank of a Petty Officer. My career in the navy wasn't easy; it had its own challenges. I had to go through tough training, live with tough people and sail on rough seas. But after 20 years of retirement, when I look back, I take pride in having served our nation. The Navy transformed me from a boy to a disciplined, courageous, committed and responsible young man. It provided me with opportunities to visit several countries that I wouldn't even have thought of visiting at that young age.

I have great respect for our armed forces. Their sense of duty or a "calling to service" arises from patriotic family values or the desire to do something meaningful in life. The primary mission of the Indian Armed Forces is to ensure national security; to defend the nation from external aggression and internal threats, and to maintain peace and security within its borders. Apart from its wartime role, the forces are also actively involved in various peacetime roles; peace-keeping, humanitarian assistance, disaster-relief and aid to the local government in handling internal affairs, evacuation of Indian nationals from conflict zones and many more. The Indian Armed Forces has proven its strength and responsiveness during many such daredevil evacuations and operations.

If today we are able to sleep peacefully without the fear of being attacked by our neighbouring countries, we should thank the Indian Armed Forces who remain ready, vigilant, responsive and agile, safeguarding the borders from all fronts. It doesn't matter if the temperature is minus 50 degrees at the Siachen Glacier; the Indian Army stands tall and ready to strike. It doesn't matter if the sea is choppy; the Indian Navy is ready to sail out to deter the enemies. It doesn't matter if the sky is cloudy; the Indian Air Force is ready for surgical strikes if the enemies intrude into our air space.

Some countries have compulsory military service where every male has to serve the nation for a few years after their schooling. There are many reasons for such policies. By joining the armed forces for a duration of two years they become courageous, disciplined, patriotic and capable youth. It provides an opportunity to the youth who may be keen to don the uniform by attracting young talent from society. After having served the armed forces for two years these young men pursue their studies or find a job. Some men sign up as regulars and serve the nation for a long term. And when there is a need, these trained young men boldly stand to serve the nation by supporting our defence forces.

Recently, the Government of India announced the Agnipath scheme for recruitment of soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers into the three services of the armed forces. This scheme provides recruitment of youth between the ages of 17-and-half years to 23 years for four years with a provision to retain 25% of them for 15 more years. I believe that this would attract youngsters who dream of donning that proud uniform and have a firsthand experience of the Indian Armed Forces. At the same time, this short stint with the forces will certainly transform these youngsters into disciplined, confident, courageous and gritty citizens. Of course, if they prove their professionalism and commitment they have an option to serve further. The dividends of a short military service to the nation, society and the youth of the nation are immense. And if a need arises in the future, we will have a trained and disciplined civilian force to support the Indian Armed Forces, and of course, these young, trained soldiers can support in the peacetime role of the forces.

As we celebrate our 75th Independence Day, let's salute the Indian Armed Forces who have dedicated their life to the service of our nation. Let's also remember the thousands of armed forces personnel who have laid down their lives for the nation during war and peacetime operations. They have left behind their families, and we should respect and honour these war widows and children. Let's also help those who have retired after serving the nation to integrate back into society. Let's salute the serving Indian Armed Forces, because they deserve it! 

Credit : Denny Joseph

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My parents quarrel often and it bothers me immensely. When I try to intervene, it only gets worse. Neither of them is ready to understand.

Since you mentioned it gets worse, I suggest you do not intervene during the argument. When things have calmed down, speak to both of them and tell them how you are getting affected and disturbed by their quarrels. In the right space, I am sure they will be able to understand you and your situation better.

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Self-love is more than just changing the colour of your hair, getting a new wardrobe or attempting to redefine yourself. Self-love is gaining an appreciation of yourself through physical, emotional and spiritual support that you provide yourself with. It is important to be mindful, act on what you need, set boundaries and deadlines for yourself. It is also important to protect yourself and live life to the fullest. In this race of life, do not forget to practise self-care and pamper yourself whenever you need to. Always remember that you are unique and worthy, and never compare yourself with anyone else. We are all blessed differently and that is what makes us special.

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I am trying to lose weight. However, I feel weak when I try to go on a strict diet. I am not losing a lot of weight, but in turn feeling very lethargic and fatigued.

Whenever you try to lose weight the right way, it is essential that you consult a dietician. Only starving yourself will make you weak. Your body needs the right vitamins, minerals and proteins which self-dieting won't give you. The fact that you are feeling lethargic and fatigued means that you are not dieting the right way. To stay healthy, it is also essential to have good sleep and regular exercise.

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A friend of mine introduced me to a vape (electronic cigarette) and told me it is harmless. I have now realized that I am very addicted to it and cannot do without it. I feel I want to tell my parents about it as I need help.

One vape pod delivers as much addictive nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Vaping trains the brain to expect more nicotine and creates the desire to vape even more (Health and Human Services 2021). Though you have been introduced to this as a harmless substance, I urge you to understand that it isn't safe. I appreciate your decision, and suggest that you inform your parents about the same, as you would require help getting off it.

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Going back to college all over again feels like a task. I have hardly studied anything during online classes and I feel I will be judged for my lack of knowledge.

Online schooling has hit everyone hard in the same way. Most students feel the same way just like you. Online schooling and exams have been easier for most students. However, now that college is offline you will have to take the plunge. Maybe this is just an initial phase where you may feel uneasy to go to college. Once you start you will feel a lot better with every passing day.

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I am unable to have a constant group of friends; my friend circle changes almost every year as I go to the next class.

It is important to understand why your friend circle changes, is it only because you go to the next class and have other friends or is there any other reason. As you move ahead in life, we will keep meeting new interesting people and they may become a part of your friend circle. Some people may have the same set of friends throughout, however not everyone does. It is completely fine to have new friends every year.

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Post online classes I am now finding it very difficult to reduce my screen time. I am on the phone all the time post school and it has become a sort of habit that I am unable to let go of. My screen time is around 7-8 hours a day.

You can gradually try and reduce the number of hours on your own. So, if your present screen time is 8 hours, make it 7 hours for the next week and the following week make it 6 hours. In this manner, you are self-monitoring yourself. However, if you find this difficult, I would suggest you maintain a screen time on your phone of a limited time that is password-protected. You can ask your parents to save a password that you are not aware of. After you have exhausted your hours for the day, your phone will automatically go off.

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I develop an attraction too fast towards a person, I also believe all the stories they give and later get disappointed because most of it is all lies. In a manner like this I lose the relationship/friendship very soon.

It is important for you to know a person well before trusting them. At the initial stages of any relationship/friendship most people are at their best behaviour which later fades away with time. If you quickly trust a person the chances that you will get disappointed are very high. Give yourself and the person enough time before making any move.

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