Typos are careless spelling or punctuation mistakes. They are usually minor, but not always. Sometimes these small mistakes can cost millions of dollars. NASA, the US space agency, made a little mistake in 1962 that had a big impact. Their spacecraft, called “Mariner 1”, was launched in 1962 with the goal of flying by the planet Venus. The spacecraft was robotic, so there were no people onboard. Because of this, its navigation was controlled by software. Unfortunately, the person in charge of writing the software forgot one character – a hyphen. This missing hyphen caused the software to malfunction. The spacecraft exploded after takeoff, costing NASA $80 million!
When Mitsutaka Uchikoshi got lost on a Japanese mountain, his chances of survival were slim. He had no food, water, or protection against the environment. Mitsutaka became separated from his climbing party on Mount Rokko. The last thing he remembers is lying down in a grassy area. He felt exhausted, but relaxed in the sunshine. He fell asleep, and his metabolism slowed to a standstill.
A company called Planetary Resources wants to mine asteroids that are close to Earth for water and precious metals. While Planetary Resources is looking at near-Earth asteroids, NASA has its eye on a bigger prize. The space agency is planning on sending a probe in 2023 to a massive asteroid circling Jupiter that is made almost entirely of iron and nickel. The calculated worth of the asteroid is 10 quintillion dollars! That’s a one followed by 19 zeros and doesn’t include the gold, copper, and platinum to be found there as well.
Humans are natural travelers. We evolved into modern humans almost 200,000 years ago. In the last 50,000 years we have traveled across the earth and now live almost everywhere except for Antarctica. If environmental problems on earth continue to increase, one day we may need to find a new home in space. Image by: NASA