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Investigation : importance of units

Work in groups of 5 to discuss other possible situations where using the incorrect set of units can be to your disadvantage or even dangerous. Look for examples at home, at school, at a hospital, when travelling and in a shop.

Case study : the importance of units

Read the following extract from CNN News 30 September 1999 and answer the questions below.

N ASA: Human error caused loss of Mars orbiter November 10, 1999

Failure to convert English measures to metric values caused the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter, a spacecraft that smashed into the planet instead of reaching a safe orbit, a NASA investigation concluded Wednesday. The Mars Climate Orbiter, a key craft in the space agency's exploration of the red planet, vanished on 23 September after a 10 month journey. It is believed that the craft came dangerously close to the atmosphere of Mars, where it presumably burned and broke into pieces.An investigation board concluded that NASA engineers failed to convert English measures of rocket thrusts to newton, a metric system measuring rocket force. One English pound of force equals 4,45 newtons. A small difference between the two values caused the spacecraft to approach Mars at too low an altitude and the craft is thought to have smashed into the planet's atmosphere and was destroyed. The spacecraft was to be a key part of the exploration of the planet. From its station about the red planet, the Mars Climate Orbiter was to relay signals from the Mars Polar Lander, which is scheduled to touch down on Mars next month.“The root cause of the loss of the spacecraft was a failed translation of English units into metric units and a segment of ground-based, navigation-related mission software,” said Arthus Stephenson, chairman of the investigation board. Q uestions:

  1. Why did the Mars Climate Orbiter crash? Answer in your own words.
  2. How could this have been avoided?
  3. Why was the Mars Orbiter sent to Mars?
  4. Do you think space exploration is important? Explain your answer.

How to change units

It is very important that you are aware that different systems of units exist. Furthermore, you must be able to convert between units. Being able to change between units (for example, converting from millimetres to metres) is a useful skill in Science.

The following conversion diagrams will help you change from one unit to another.

The distance conversion table

If you want to change millimetre to metre, you divide by 1000 (follow the arrow from mm to m); or if you want to change kilometre to millimetre, you multiply by 1000 × 1000.

The same method can be used to change millilitre to litre or kilolitre. Use [link] to change volumes:

The volume conversion table

Express 3 800 mm in metres.

  1. Use [link] . Millimetre is on the left and metre in the middle.

  2. You need to go from mm to m, so you are moving from left to right.

  3. 3 800 mm ÷ 1000 = 3,8  m

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Questions & Answers

so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
bamidele Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 29, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11245/1.3
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