Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Russia's Mars Probe Starts Making Regular Contact

If the probe can be revived, NBC News space analyst James Oberg said it could rank as "the biggest 'space rescue' since Apollo 13, Skylab and the iceberg space station Salyut 7."

Now what?

It's not clear what options are still available for continuing Phobos-Grunt's mission. Some reports from Russia have suggested that the opportunity for a round trip to Phobos and back has already been lost. Davydov, however, said Russian engineers had until the end of the month to fix the probe's engines and send it on a path to Phobos.

Russian scientists could fix the problem if the probe failed because of a software flaw, but some experts think that the failure was rooted in hardware that's difficult to fix.

Even if Phobos-Grunt could no longer execute its sample return mission, it could still conceivably take on a one-way trip to Mars and its moon, or head for a different destination, such as Earth's moon or an asteroid. That assumes, of course, that Phobos-Grunt's onboard systems can be fully revived.


[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, November 29th, 2011.]

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