Although it lasted years longer than anyone ever expected, the disappearance of NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft is still a mystery the agency wants to investigate. The agency has created an internal review board to review the spacecraft’s final days and recommend any new processes or policies that could improve future spacecraft.
Mars Global Surveyor was launched in 1996 to the Red Planet on a two year mission. It went on to last more than 9 years, and captured many more images than anticipated. It made many discoveries, including evidence for recent water acting on the surface of the planet.
Ground controllers received a message on November 2, 2006 that one of its solar arrays wasn’t pivoting correctly. One orbit later, NASA lost contact altogether.
Original Source: NASA/JPL News Release