Phobos-Grunt: Failed probe ‘falls over Pacific’

Posted on January 16, 2012

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Orbital tracking reports suggest Russia’s failed Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt, fell back to Earth on Sunday, to be destroyed over the Pacific.

Russian, US and European sources announced the demise of the craft within minutes of each other.

It brings to an end the sorry story of this mission, which promised to return rocky samples from Mars’ biggest moon.

Instead, after its launch in November, Phobos-Grunt could not get more than 345km from Earth before stalling.

Once it became clear that controllers could not establish contact with the probe and diagnose its faults, a fiery dive back to Earth was inevitable.

The spacecraft’s last orbit took it over Japan, and the Solomon Islands, and to the east of Australia and New Zealand. Conflicting reports then had the final re-entry point across a great swathe of the Southern Ocean. Certainly, it seems Phobos-Grunt was down and destroyed before it could have passed over South America.

BBC

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