I Can Explain It

Cassini probe failed to ‘taste’ moon’s geysers in flyby:

As Cassini flew over the small moon on 12 March, passing only 200 kilometres from the base of the plume, an “unexplained software hiccup” prevented the spacecraft’s Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) from transmitting data to the onboard computer.

New software, designed to improve the ability of CDA to count particle hits, may be to blame. “We don’t know why it did not work,” says the instrument’s principal investigator, Ralf Srama of the Max Planck Institute of Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany. “We prepared very carefully.”

Think of the budget saved with insufficient testing. Someone probably could have gotten a performance bonus at year’s end. Now, probably not.

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