List of science and engineering blunders

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This is a list of engineering blunders, i.e., gross errors or mistakes resulting from grave lack of proper consideration, such as stupidity, confusion, carelessness, or culpable ignorance,[1] which resulted in notable incidents.

  • Fort Montgomery (Lake Champlain) was sometimes referred to as "Fort Blunder", because the first version of the U.S. fort was inadvertently built on the Canadian side of the border.
  • The NASA Mars Climate Orbiter, launched in 1998, burned up in the Martian atmosphere. A mixup between metric and US Standard measurements in the controlling software caused the spacecraft to miss its intended 140–150 km altitude above Mars during orbit insertion, instead entering the Martian atmosphere at about 57 km.
  • The NASA Genesis mission was an attempt to sample particles from the solar wind. It successfully collected a sample and returned to Earth. However at the last moment the landing parachute failed to open and the return capsule smashed into the ground at high speed, contaminating the samples. The parachute failure was traced to an accelerometer installed backwards.


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  1. ^ Blunder, Dictionary.com. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (accessed: February 04, 2009).