That’s in 1999 dollars, so we need to factor in inflation to get present day dollars. Or, maybe deflation, given the state of the global economy!
Before we jump into the specifics, let me just say right of the bat that I have no intention of raining on NASA’s parade -- Their engineers really proved they have the right stuff in landing Curiosity in Gale crater, only 1.5 kilometers from the target landing site after a 566 million kilometer flight! That’s pretty awesome no matter how you call it.
However, NASA has had its share of failures as witnessed by the Mars Climate Orbiter launched to the Red Planet on December 11, 1998 and reported lost on September 23, 1999. So, how was the Mars Climate Orbiter lost to a translation error?
(Correction: Curiosity was 1.5 miles off target, about 2.4 kilometers.)
An investigation revealed that one team on the project used English, or imperial, units (e.g., inches, feet and pounds) while another used metric units for information critical to put the spacecraft in the proper orbit around Mars. As a result, the Mars Climate Orbiter entered the Martian atmosphere at an incorrect angle causing it to disintegrate.
In industry parlance, the conversion of data (units) for a specific locale is referred to as localization (localisation), which is a part of the larger translation process.
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About the Author
Ivan Vandermerwe is the CEO of SAECULII YK, the owner of Tokyo Translation Service Japan Visit SAECULII for the latest professional articles and news on Japanese Translation Services
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