Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
Take a look at how electronics of spacecraft are built to survive the harshness of space environments.
It appears that Phobos-Grunt was doomed before it launched on November 9, 2011. Cheap parts, design shortcomings, and lack of pre-flight testing ensured that the spacecraft would never fulfill its goals.
Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, has released its official report concerning the failure of the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which fell back to Earth from orbit on January 15 after failing to ignite the engines that were to take it to the largest Martian moon.
This week's lineup is a largely astronomical crowd so most of the conversation concerned dark matter and boiling exoplanets and imaging the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
Phobos-Grunt has returned to Earth, a lot sooner than it should have. Yesterday, at approximately 17:45 UT, the Russian spacecraft and its passengers, including a Chinese orbiter and the Planetary Society's LIFE experiment, descended into Earth's atmosphere.
The Russian military is stating that at 17:45 UT, Phobos-Grunt fell into the Pacific Ocean.
We explore space for the noblest goals of science and exploration, and we often persevere in spite of challenges. But space exploration is fraught with bad things happening, or, to use the technical term, ouchies. The Planetary Society's Phobos LIFE biomodule will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere in the next few days with the rest of the Phobos-Grunt mission.
I'm not looking forward to spending the weekend sitting deathwatch on Phobos-Grunt. It's not science, and it's a sad event, so my instincts would lead me to other subjects. But it contains the Planetary Society's Phobos LIFE experiment.
It's the best of times for Mars exploration because we've got three orbiters and a rover studying the Red Planet. It's also the worst of times for my Russian, European, and Chinese colleagues who were part of the Phobos-Grunt mission.
A letter sent by Lev Zelenyi, director of the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI) to participants in the Phobos-Soil project about the mission's failure.
After modifying two antennas and attempting to send commands to Phobos-Grunt for weeks without success, ESA has made the decision to stop tracking support.
On Tuesday, November 22 at 20:25 UTC, a European Space Agency ground station in Perth, Australia, successfully made brief radio contact with Phobos-Grunt.
Jason Davis put together this neat summary of the checkered history of Mars exploration.
I said I wasn't going to post again unless the spacecraft talked to us, but I changed my mind because finally there were official comments today about the status of the mission from Roskosmos head Vladimir Popovkin.
I can summarize the news about the last day's efforts to save Phobos-Grunt in three words: there is none. At least nothing official.
When I last left Phobos-Grunt, Roscosmos had not yet commented on the results of a planned attempt to communicate with the wayward spacecraft at 19:00 UT on November 9.
I repeatedly rewrote yesterday's post on the problem suffered by Phobos-Grunt after its apparently perfect Zenit launch and thought it was time to begin fresh.
Russia's Phobos-Grunt sample return spacecraft, carrying the Planetary Society's Phobos LIFE experiment, plus China's Yinghuo-1 Mars minisatellite, are poised for launch at Baikonur! The launch window opens in less than six hours, at 20:16 UTC.
I am ecstatic to report that at 20:16 UTC, millions of passengers on board the Planetary Society's Phobos LIFE biomodule launched into space inside the Phobos Sample Return (also known as Phobos Grunt or Phobos Soil) spacecraft.
It looks like something has gone wrong with Phobos-Grunt.
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