In less than 48 hours, Russias bold Phobos-Grunt mechanized probe will embark on a historic flight to haul humanities first ever soil samples back from the tiny Martian moon Phobos. Liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome remains on target for November 9 (Nov 8 US EDT).
For an exquisite view of every step of this first-of-its-kind robot retriever, watch this spectacular action packed animation (below) outlining the entire 3 year round trip voyage. The simulation was produced by Roscosmos, Russias Federal Space Agency and the famous IKI Space Research Institute. Its set to cool music so dont worry, you dont need to understand Russian.
Another video below shows the arrival and uncrating of the actual Phobos-Grunt spacecraft at Baikonur in October 2011.
The highly detailed animation begins with the blastoff of the Zenit booster rocket and swiftly progresses through Earth orbit departure, Phobos-Grunt Mars orbit insertion, deployment of the piggybacked Yinghuo-1 (YH-1) mini satellite from China, Phobos-Grunt scientific reconnaissance of Phobos and search for a safe landing site, radar guided propulsive landing, robotic arm manipulation and soil sample collection and analysis, sample transfer to the Earth return capsule and departure, plummeting through Earths atmosphere and Russian helicopter retrieval of the precious cargo carrier.
Explore further: Rocket launches into an aurora to study auroral swirls