Design lessons from the Mars Climate Orbiter

Artist's rendition of the Mars Climate Orbiter. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Artist’s rendition of the Mars Climate Orbiter. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Alexander Pope famously wrote that “to err is human.” In doing so, he was probably referencing Seneca the Younger who said something similar about seventeen hundred years earlier: errare humanum est. Both quotes suggest that mistakes are a fundamental part of the human experience. If we are honest, all of us would confess to having erred on many occasions. Most of those mistakes were small. Some were large. Thankfully, few of us will ever have to admit to a mistake that cost over $125 million! [1] Continue reading

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