'Little chance' of saving stranded Mars probe: Russia

Russia launched the Phobos-Grunt probe to the Martian moon Phobos on November 9
The Phobos-Grunt probe at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on October 18. Russia's space agency said Tuesday there was little chance of saving its Phobos-Grunt probe that aimed to bring back soil from Mars' largest moon but has been stranded in Earth orbit since its launch.
Russia's space agency admitted Tuesday there was little chance of saving a probe that aimed to bring back soil from Mars's largest moon but has been stranded in Earth orbit since launch.

"There is little chance that we will be able to realise this mission," the deputy head of Roscosmos Vitaly Davydov said in the first official acknowledgement that the probe is likely lost.

Russia launched the Phobos-Grunt research probe to the Martian moon Phobos on November 9, in an attempt to reinvigorate its interplanetary programme which had not seen a successful mission since the fall of the Soviet Union.

However hours later the probe failed to depart the Earth's orbit and mission control lost radio contact with the craft.

"We need to be realists. Since we could not establish contact for so long, the chances to carry out this expedition right now are very slim," Davydov said, quoted by the ITAR-TASS and Interfax news agencies.

Roscosmos still does not know what exactly went wrong with its ambitious five-billion-ruble ($165 million) probe, which was meant to scoop up soil on Phobos and bring it back to Earth by 2014.

"If we gain contact and understand what is happening with the probe, then maybe we will be able to draw conclusions. But now we have no information from the craft," Davydov said.

"There is no telemetry, we simply don't understand what is happening," Davydov said, referring to information about the probe's position in space.

Russia's space officials admitted from the beginning that the mission was a big risk as due to its complete lack of experience in the last two decades in successfully sending probes to the solar system.

However the launch was carried out to take advantage of the current position of the planet which means the distance between Earth and Mars is relatively short. The next such "window" will open up in two years, Davydov said.

The 13.5 tonne probe, out of control and carrying highly toxic fuel, could also crash into the earth, Roscosmos has warned. However Davydov said it is impossible to predict the exact position of such an event.

"The crash area of any craft can only be estimated in the final 24 hours," he said. "Before then, saying what will fall and where is pointless.

Russia suffered several space failures over the past 12 months after three navigation satellites plunged into the ocean in December, followed by loss of satellites for military and digital television.

In August, a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station crashed in Siberia, leading to fears that ISS crew may have to be evacuated.

The space agency's long term plans now be clear once the probe is established a failure, and insurance payments are made out, Davydov said. It was insured for 1.2 billion roubles ($40 million).

Davydov said that Russia may be better off in future sending probes to the Earth's moon and researching Mars in cooperation with its international partners.

"Maybe it makes sense to switch to more comprehensive steps towards the Moon, and regarding Mars, to rely on cooperation with our foreign partners," Davydov said.


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Russia Mars probe may fall to Earth in January

(c) 2011 AFP

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Nov 22, 2011
what a bummer

Nov 22, 2011
Odd, that they would insure a $165 million probe for only $40 million. Very strange. Or is it that space probes are even more like cars than cars: the moment you drive it off the parking lot, it loses 75% of its value?

Nov 22, 2011
This is really too bad. I hate to see any space program suffer. In these economically challenging times it would be appropriate to see the Russian, American, Japaneese, European and Chinese programs work together, especially on the larger projects. Projects like a real space station that is intended to be permanent and largely sulf-sustaining, a moon base and Mars exploration.

I think each program could bring differing skill sets to the table and if properly managed could be incredibly successful. It's about time we grew up a bit and started working together on projects that benefit all mankind.

Nov 22, 2011
IMHO, this is the kind of situation where a real "space shuttle" would be useful. I'm talking about a space vehicle that stays docked at the ISS when not in use, and is used to retrieve satellites for repair, to reorbit ones that are not in the right orbits, to clear away dangerous space junk, etc. Why is such a vehicle not part of the ISS inventory?

Nov 22, 2011
what chump cares about any russian or us mars probe

when u know whats there already?

human colonies brough to you by the secret space program

ofcourse if you dont know that ur a chump cluless patetic so called human beeing or better called a sheep

Nov 22, 2011
The Ghost of Mars is a hungry beast. By my tally, the score is Mars: 23, Earthlings: 12. That is almost 2 to 1 against us. Nearly all of the 12 successfull Mars missions are NASA. From the resources I have available, I count this as the 6th time a Russian Mars probe has gotten stuck in Earth orbit, including all of the first three attempts. If I was working for NASA and got assigned to work on a Mars project, I would have to make sure that I wasn't wearing a red uniform (Star Trek reference). My count might be a litle outdated, as it only goes up to 2005. I added one for Pheonix, but I'm not sure if I have forgotten something. Anyway, the count is still nearly 2 to 1 in favor of the Ghost, even if I did forget one.

You could not pay me enough to be on the first ship to carry humans to Mars. I'm normally not a superstitious person, but there's something about that planet that doesn't like man.

Nov 22, 2011
the Russian, American, Japaneese, European and Chinese programs work together, especially on the larger projects.

You mean like on the ISS?

Financially that's about as good as it gets these days. All countries (and their space programs) are feeling the squeeze. I don't think there is any cash lying around for even bigger projects like Moon bases or asteroid mining camps.

I'm talking about a space vehicle that stays docked at the ISS when not in use, and is used to retrieve satellites for repair,

The ISS is low Earth orbit (400km). Most sattelites are WAY higher. you don't just undock, go to a geosynch asteroid (36000km high!) and back. Not with something as heavy as the shuttle. Much cheaper to send up a new sattelite.

Space (and orbit) is BIG. Much bigger than you can imagine. Zipping around like in SciFi Anime is not part of the deal.

Nov 22, 2011
I found a better source and would like to change my scorecard to Mars:26, Earthlings:16. It's somewhat subjective though, because it depends on how you count them up. There are a couple of missions that had both orbiter and lander and some of them were half success and half failure, and one of the Russian landers kinda succeeded. It landed and sent back some data then failed almost immediatly. I counted that one as a failure.

P.S. Let's just pretend that we can't see Vendicar's posts from now on, okay?

Nov 23, 2011
So what are the implications of this failure?

Scientifically, I can't say how much new knowledge it could give us, given that it can only gather samples from where it lands. But we have a lot to learn about Mars, so maybe something important could be discovered.

What's more important are the political implications. Russia has long since lost it's place as a leader in technology of any kind, and as this project shows they aren't getting any closer. It looks like Putin will remain in control of Russia for years to come, and the corruption that pervades their society will be sticking around with him. All I can hope is that the citizens look at this failure and think "Something needs to change if I can no longer feel proud of being Russian."


Nov 23, 2011
Scientifically, I can't say how much new knowledge it could give us, given that it can only gather samples from where it lands.

Science is not only geology. Getting experience with landings on extraterrestrial objects (in orbit around another planet to boot) would already be worth it. Especially if we ever want to go asteroid mining or somesuch.

Finding out whether Phobos was part of Mars and formed through an imapct or whether it formed independently from analysis of surface chemistry would be very interesting.

Finding out whether we could land a sattelite on Phobos for future/long term reconnaissance of Mars (Phobos is only 10000km from the surface). Without the need for fuel for station keeping such a surveillance probe could work more or less indefinitely (just have to figure outhow to relay the signal to Earth)

...

Nov 24, 2011
what chump cares about any russian or us mars probe
when u know whats there already?
human colonies brough to you by the secret space program
ofcourse if you dont know that ur a chump cluless patetic so called human beeing or better called a sheep


OT:

Damn it, enough already. For the sake of common courtesy, is it too much to ask that you not type as though this were a text message and not a newsgroup post? As in 'you' instead of 'u', 'your' in stead of 'ur', and maybe you could capitalize the occasional sentence? Back when bandwidth really was an issue, like the 100 baud BBS days, maybe, but now it's just inconsiderate of your readers.

Maybe it's just a pet peeve of mine, but I would like to consider your posts for content and not for format, but keep finding myself distracted by the u ur etc.

Thank you for at least considering this.


Nov 25, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Nov 26, 2011
what chump cares about any russian or us mars probe

when u know whats there already?

human colonies brough to you by the secret space program

ofcourse if you dont know that ur a chump cluless patetic so called human beeing or better called a sheep

Now i know that English may not be your first language bt you could at least try and spell your words rght as well as use proper punctuation! Also the content of your post is a bit...crazy?
Palso reported your post as it seems a bit innapropriate for this forum, and rude.

Nov 27, 2011
The Ghost of Mars is a hungry beast. By my tally, the score is Mars: 23, Earthlings: 12. That is almost 2 to 1 against us. Nearly all of the 12 successfull Mars missions are NASA. From the resources I have available, I count this as the 6th time a Russian Mars probe has gotten stuck in Earth orbit, including all of the first three attempts. If I was working for NASA and got assigned to work on a Mars project, I would have to make sure that I wasn't wearing a red uniform (Star Trek reference). My count might be a litle outdated, as it only goes up to 2005. I added one for Pheonix, but I'm not sure if I have forgotten something. Anyway, the count is still nearly 2 to 1 in favor of the Ghost, even if I did forget one.

You could not pay me enough to be on the first ship to carry humans to Mars. I'm normally not a superstitious person, but there's something about that planet that doesn't like man.


It's Pluto's hired goon.

Nov 27, 2011
I found a better source and would like to change my scorecard to Mars:26, Earthlings:16. It's somewhat subjective though, because it depends on how you count them up. There are a couple of missions that had both orbiter and lander and some of them were half success and half failure, and one of the Russian landers kinda succeeded. It landed and sent back some data then failed almost immediatly. I counted that one as a failure.

Perhaps this is why such large and important projects (to humanity, not just individual temporary political groups) should be shared as a team effort. Each looking over the shoulders of the others to ensure the best eyes and skills are holistically applied to every aspect of the project. It will take longer to accomplish than any group singly, but the chances of success go up significantly. Repeated failures are simply too costly and far more time consuming.

Nov 30, 2011
While I might not agree with what ABSOLUTEKNOWLEDGE says, I really can not stand the spelling / grammar police. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the work "You" is implied when some one types "u", are you really struggling to read his post? I highly doubt it as you both seem fairly intelligent.

ABSOLUTEKNOWLEDGE - There is absolutely no proof for "Secret" manned Mars / Moon bases

PhotonX and MarkyMark do you really have nothing better to do than to correct how some one types a message simply because it displeases you?

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