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Chain of Errors Hurled Probe Into Spin

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Science  24 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5376, pp. 499
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5376.499a

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The loss of the $1 billion Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency, has exposed a long chain of software and control errors, a NASA review panel has found. The report says a pair of software bugs laid the groundwork for a disastrous command from controllers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which caused SOHO to spin out of control early on 25 June. Science has learned that the debacle also revealed other foul-ups, which played smaller roles in the loss.