Scan_Doc0014 - 8 Chapter One Chemical Foundations Critical...

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8 Chapter One Chemical Foundations How important are conversions from one unit to another? If you ask the National Aeronau- tics and Space Administration (NASA), very important! In 1999, NASA lost a $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter be- cause of a failure to convert from English to metric units. The problem arose because two teams working on the Mars mission were using different sets of units. NASA's sci- entists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Cali- fornia, assumed that the thrust data for the rockets on the Orbiter they received from Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, which built the spacecraft, were in metric units. In reality, the units were English. As a result the Orbiter dipped 100 kilometers lower into the Mars atmosphere than planned, and the friction from the atmosphere caused the craft to burn up. NASA's mistake refueled the controversy over whether Congress should require the United States to switch to the metric system. About 95% of the world now uses the metric system, and the United
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