Saturday, 12 November 2011

Russian Mars probe trapped in orbit

Hope is fading for the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission to Mars, as the probe has been trapped in low Earth orbit since Wednesday. The 13-ton (11.8-tonne) unmanned spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 9, atop a Ukrainian Zenit-2 booster. Baikonur ground control lost track of the probe when it failed to appear in its predicted orbit. According to the Russian Space Agency, the Phobos-Grunt's engines failed to fire twice, leaving the probe in a low, rapidly decaying orbit. Despite continuing efforts, ground control has been unable to get the probe to respond to commands and can only receive telemetry data from it. If the Russians are unable to regain control, the Phobos-Grunt is expected to make an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, along with its 8.3 tons (7.5 tonnes) of highly toxic propellant and radioactive cobalt-57... Continue Reading Russian Mars probe trapped in orbit

1 comment:

eon said...

Well, on the plus side, at least it didn't go into orbit around the Sun like one of the Venera probes did. That one is still beetling around out there somewhere, IIRC.

Perhaps some future civilization will find it, and wonder why we couldn't even hit the planet it was intended for when it was downhill all the way, in the gravitational sense.

As for this 8500 kg package, I'm hoping that once more, the fact that 74% of the Earth's surface is ocean will give us a 3-to-1 probability that it won't cannon into somebody's house.