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Earthly Errors Mar Pathfinder Job

Earth-based glitches blocked most data from the Mars Pathfinder on Saturday, delaying images of the Martian moon Phobos, observations of early morning fog and rock measurements.

The stream of computerized photos and measurements was expected to be resent by early today, mission controllers said.

The problems, unrelated to computer resets on the Mars lander that delayed communications earlier, were caused in part by the incorrect setting of a radio antenna in Madrid, said project manager Brian Muirhead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

“We haven’t worked with this (Madrid) team since landing day,” Muirhead said. “It took a while for everybody to get configured properly.”

Meanwhile, the rover Sojourner tried to touch a rock dubbed Scooby Doo with its sensors, but overshot its goal.

Earlier, it had scraped dust from the rock’s surface.

“This isn’t super precise stuff,” Muirhead said.