Russia Mars probe may fall to Earth in January

November 14, 2011
The Pobos-Grunt probe before it was mounted on board a Zenit rocket at the Russian leased Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome in October 2011. The probe that was to visit a moon of Mars but is stuck in orbit around the Earth could burn up in the Earth's atmosphere in January, the head of the Russian space agency said Monday.

A Russian probe that was to visit a moon of Mars but is stuck in orbit around the Earth could burn up in the Earth's atmosphere in January, the head of the Russian space agency said Monday.

Vladimir Popovkin denied that the Phobos-Grunt probe was considered lost and said scientists had until December to try to re-establish contact, re-programme the probe and send it on its planned to Mars.

"The probe is going to be in orbit until January, but in the first days of December the window will close" to re-programme it, he told Russian news agencies at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"There is a chance, but we have still not obtained the telemetric information to understand what happened" after the launch, he added, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

If scientists fail to direct the probe towards Mars, it would then be pulled in towards as it loses speed, he said. But Popovkin insisted that the probe would burn up in the and would not pose a danger to people on the ground.

"There is little chance that it would ever reach Earth (surface) at all," he said. "We have no doubt that it will burn up on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere."

An anonymous source told Interfax at the weekend that the probe should be "considered lost" after it failed to head out to Mars following its launch last Wednesday and stayed stuck in orbit around the Earth.

The had the unprecedented mission to land on the Martian moon Phobos and bring a sample of its rock back to Earth, as well as launch a Chinese satellite into Martian orbit.

Explore further: Russia delays Mars probe launch until 2012: report

Related Stories

Russia delays Mars probe launch until 2012: report

September 16, 2009

Russia will pushed back its flagship satellite mission to Mars' moon until 2011 in a move which will delay the joint launch of China's first Mars probe, space sources were cited as saying Wednesday.

Russia aims for first conquest of Mars

November 7, 2011

Russia on Wednesday launches a probe for Mars that aims to collect a chunk of a Martian moon and become Moscow's first successful planetary mission since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russian craft embarks on voyage to Mars moon (Update)

November 8, 2011

A Russian probe on Wednesday set off on a three year return mission to Mars that aims to bring the first sample of a Martian moon back to Earth and re-establish Moscow as a power in planetary exploration. The Phobos-Grunt ...

Chance of Russia Mars probe rescue 'very small'

November 11, 2011

The chances of rescuing a Russian probe that is stuck in an Earth orbit after failing to set out on its planned mission for Mars are very small, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday.

Russia Mars probe considered lost: report

November 12, 2011

Efforts to resume contact with a Russian space mission to Mars stuck in Earth orbit after launch have failed and the probe must be considered lost, Interfax news agency reported Saturday.

Recommended for you

At Saturn, one of these rings is not like the others

September 2, 2015

When the sun set on Saturn's rings in August 2009, scientists on NASA's Cassini mission were watching closely. It was the equinox—one of two times in the Saturnian year when the sun illuminates the planet's enormous ring ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Comet Hitchhiker would take tour of small bodies

September 2, 2015

Catching a ride from one solar system body to another isn't easy. You have to figure out how to land your spacecraft safely and then get it on its way to the next destination. The landing part is especially tricky for asteroids ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.