No new contact with stranded Mars probe

Nov 25, 2011
The Phobos-Grunt probe at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome, October 2011. The European Space Agency (ESA) has said it had been unable to establish a new link with Russia's stricken Mars probe but added that the craft's orbit seemed to have become more stable.

The European Space Agency (ESA) said on Friday it had been unable to establish a new link with Russia's stricken Mars probe but added that the craft's orbit seemed to have become more stable.

ESA's tracking station in Perth, Western Australia monitored the airwaves for eight hours from 2012 GMT on Thursday until 0404 GMT Friday but did not pick up any fresh signals from Phobos-Grunt, the agency said in a press release.

There were four brief slots, each lasting no more than eight minutes, when Phobos-Grunt was passing overhead and communication was theoretically possible, it said.

The next chance to listen will be on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Perth tracking station made the first contact with Phobos-Grunt since it got stuck in after launch on November 9.

On Thursday, the said it had received some telemetry data and engineers were working on the information, the Interfax news agency said.

"Our Russian colleagues provided a full set of telecommands for us to send up and Perth station was set to use the same techniques and configurations that worked earlier," said ESA's Wolfgang Hell, in charge of liaising with Russia over Phobos-Grunt.

"But we observed no downlink from the spacecraft."

Phobos-Grunt is Russia's first interplanetary mission since 1996, when an attempt to send an instrument-laden 6.1-tonne probe to the Red Planet, Mars 96, ended with a failure just after launch.

The five-billion-ruble ($165-million) scout is designed to travel to the of Phobos, scoop up soil and return the sample to Earth by 2014.

But mission control lost radio contact with the 13.5-tonne craft hours after launch, leaving engineers baffled as to where it was.

ESA added, though, that observations from the ground indicated that Phobos-Grunt's orbit had become more stable, which was encouraging.

"This could mean that the spacecraft's attitude, or orientation, is also now stable, which could help in regaining contact because wed be able to predict where its two antennas are pointing," said Manfred Warhaut at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.

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omatumr
1 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2011
But mission control lost radio contact with the 13.5-tonne craft hours after launch, leaving engineers baffled as to where it was.

"This could mean that the spacecraft's attitude, or orientation, is also now stable, which could help in regaining contact because wed be able to predict where its two antennas are pointing," said Manfred Warhaut at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.


That is an unsettling assessment.

Are engineers still baffled where this 13.5-tonne spacecraft is?

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09

rah
1 / 5 (3) Nov 25, 2011
There is the possibility that the contractor, knowing that their project was not going to work, just launched it into space in order to avoid being blamed for any further delays. I am very concerned that NASA's Saturday launch of the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity Rover is facing the same fate. It is much more complicated and 20 times more expensive than the Phobos/Grunt mission. The MSL mission has been mismanaged from day one, missed 2 previous launch attempts and was criminally over budget. So the easiest way to stop the criticism is to launch the thing. When it fails, the blame can be spread around for years, after NASA spends millions more to find the cause. I really hope I'm just getting cranky as I'm getting older.
rawa1
1 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2011
I really hope I'm just getting cranky as I'm getting older.
Nope, you're just applying your life experience. My experience is, the youngsters don't take the aether theory seriously at all, because they don't understand the emergent mechanism, on which this theory is based. Because they've no life experience, they tend to believe and think schematically, relying on their ability to deduce the things logically from low number of facts. But the real life is about many seemingly illogical stances and approaches too. These approaches are consequence of much more less or more hidden reasons, then the schematically thinking people are willing to consider.
In this connection it's not accidental, most of fundamental findings of physics in recent era are supported just with elderly physicists (cold fusion, antigravity, room-temperature superconductivity).

A C.Clarke: "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right..."
Pirouette
1 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2011
OR he could be almost certainly wrong. Is it by sheer good luck that everything goes right? Is it only accidental that everything falls into place? Could it be that the odds are in favor of success or disaster? Could the whole process be similar to throwing the dice and hoping for the best? All it take is ONE LITTLE GLITCH. One more turn of the screwdriver that can make all the difference.
Pirouette
1 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2011
In a perfect world, nothing is left to chance. But this is not a perfect world and not everyone is passionate enough about his job. There are also the things of which we have no control. . .weather, wind velocity, a Russian cockroach in the clean room, too many things to mess up the works. I just hope that none of us are in a place where the probe crashes.
Osiris1
3 / 5 (2) Nov 25, 2011
A bug in the clean room......V. I Zhirinovskiy is THAT where you have been hiding?
Grizzled
1 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2011
Or dear. I can just imagine workers in dirty coveralls using manual screwdrivers while hunting roaches in the clean room. Some people have some VERY odd ideas about how those things work.
Pirouette
1 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2011
LOL. . .just kidding about the cockroach, but. . . .dirty coveralls?
astro_optics
1 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2011
This is Fn unbelievable, this satellite is more retarded than a toy helicopter !