Russia Mars probe considered lost: report

Nov 12, 2011
A Zenit-2SB rocket, carrying the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, seen here at a launch pad of the Russian leased Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome early on November 9, just before it's blast off toward Mars. Efforts to resume contact with the spacecraft stuck in Earth orbit after launch have failed and the probe must be considered lost, Interfax news agency reported Saturday.

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.

"All attempts to obtain telemetric information from the Phobos-Grunt probe and activate its command system have failed. The probe must be considered lost," Interfax quoted a source in the Russian space sector as saying.

The source said Russia's space agency would announce the failure of the mission in the next few days.

The space agency had said earlier scientists had a window of only a few days to reprogramme the probe in a bid to send it on its route to Mars. If this does not happen, Phobos-Grunt would fall back to Earth early next month.

The mission went awry after launch Wednesday when the five-billion-ruble ($165 million) probe's engine failed to fire, leaving it orbiting the Earth rather than starting its journey towards the red planet.

The probe 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 Mars satellite.

The mishap caps an inglorious list for Russia's space programme in the 50th anniversary year of Yuri Gagarin's first flight into space.

Three plunged into the sea after a failed launch in December and Russia has since lost new military and upon launch.

The accident also comes just days before Russia is due to resume manned space flights to the that ground to a halt in August with the crash of a cargo craft.

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User comments : 11

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Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (37) Nov 12, 2011
Not lost Master Quandi? Lost?

Not lost. Grunt of Mars will return by years end it will.

Hmmmmmm.....

Standing Bear
1 / 5 (1) Nov 12, 2011
Yeah, and maybe bring Deja Thoris with him.
Callippo
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 12, 2011
On board the probe is 8.3 metric tonnes of highly toxic and hypergolic mixture of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. This mixture will be in frozen state, so it could survive the fall of probe and to reach the Earth surface, where it will explode. This is nearly 20 times the amount that was on board the American spy satellite USA-193, which was shot down before reentry by the U.S. in February 2008.

Fobos-Grunt station carries small amount of radioactive materials too. Radioactive sources are serving for the MIMOS II Mosbauer spectrometer designed for identifying iron and its quantity in the Phobos soil. The half-decay period for Cobalt-57 is around nine months.

An anonymous (expert) source indicated this may force reform in the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. Also, "a number of positions of responsible persons" could face jail time.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (8) Nov 12, 2011
I am always skeptical when I hear of expensive probes lost, as they could have actually continued on clandestine missions. Easy enough to deorbit another satellite as cover, while the real one is headed out to divert some asteroid or something.

Russians have lost 14 of 16 mars probes, many ideally suited for asteroid missions. They even lost an (unmanned?) lunar capsule which could actually have sent cosmonauts on a suicide mission to save the mother planet.
omatumr
Nov 12, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Doug_Huffman
4 / 5 (9) Nov 12, 2011
On board the probe is 8.3 metric tonnes of highly toxic and hypergolic mixture of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. This mixture will be in frozen state, so it could survive
You don't even know what the words mean that you write, else you couldn't write them. Hypergolic means 'ignite on mixing' obviating freezing. PhysOrg is such an org.asm.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.8 / 5 (45) Nov 12, 2011
"Citizens no longer trust their governments, and their concerns seem justified" - OmaTard

Government is inherently untrustworthy since it is composed of people.

That is why elected government was invented.

The underlying principle here is that the people are smart enough to elect reasonable representatives.

In America this is no longer the case for the Conservative Component of the Population.
Pirouette
2 / 5 (4) Nov 12, 2011
@Callippo
The fuel (hydrazine) and the oxidizer (nitrogen tetroxide) are NOT in a frozen state at this time, but scientists are presently worried that the two very toxic propellants, while orbiting the Earth, will freeze, and when the probe falls to Earth, the frozen propellants will NOT burn up, but stay frozen until they land. In which case, they will contaminate whatever they come into contact.
While they are liquid, they could burn once the probe's orbit has decayed and the whole thing starts to burn in the atmosphere.

Here's the link to the most pertinent article that tells all: http://www.physor...bit.html
Pirouette
1.3 / 5 (4) Nov 12, 2011
Doug. . . .thanks for the heads-up on "hypergolic". Read about it on Wiki
Pirouette
1 / 5 (2) Nov 13, 2011
"""A satellite tracking website showed the Mars probe steadily losing altitude as it passed over Asia on Sunday afternoon."""

This from: http://www.physor...obe.html
rab96
not rated yet Nov 14, 2011
Check out Project Pegasus, it could explain the loss..
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Nov 14, 2011
Check out Project Pegasus, it could explain the loss..
Hmmm nice picture of the tardis.
http://www.greatd...asus.htm

Hint - DARPA did not invent the tardis :P