22 Nov '11, 5pm

Window Closes for Russia's Mars Mission

Window Closes for Russia's Mars Mission

Things aren’t looking too great for Russia’s Phobos-Grunt spacecraft. The launch window for the probe's round-trip mission to the Martian moon Phobos ended on Monday, and the spacecraft is still stuck in Earth orbit. Phobos-Grunt is Russia’s first attempt to reach Mars in 15 years . Hopes were high for the mission. But after a successful night launch on November 8, the spacecraft failed to make the two engine firings it needed to begin the trip to Mars. Two weeks later, ground controllers still haven’t been able to establish communication with the probe. According to RIA Novosti, the spacecraft has unfolded its solar panels and is in “barbecue mode” – rotating slowly to keep the sun from overheating any one side. No one’s quite sure what’s gone wrong, but one leading hypothesis, says MSNBC's Alan Boyle , is that there was some fault that led to the engine failure, and that...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/robotic-expl...

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