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  1. #1
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    StrontiumDog's Avatar
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    Countdown to crash of Russia's failed Mars probe

    Countdown to crash of Russia's failed Mars probe | Reuters

    Countdown to crash of Russia's failed Mars probe



    By Alissa de Carbonnel
    MOSCOW | Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:48am EST

    (Reuters) - Russia's failed Mars probe Phobos-Grunt is expected to plummet back to Earth on Sunday, sending space officials scrambling to predict where it will hit in the countdown to re-entry.

    Space agency Roskosmos says debris from its doomed 14-ton spacecraft, which includes 11 tons of toxic rocket fuel, will fall to Earth between 1841 and 2105 GMT (1:41 and 4:05 p.m. EST).

    Due to constant changes in the upper atmosphere, which is strongly influenced by solar activity, the exact time and place of the satellite's return is unknown.

    The crash site could be anywhere along an elliptical orbit over a broad swathe of the globe, from a latitude of 51.4 degrees north - roughly as far north as London - to 51.4 degrees south, on the same latitude as the heel of Argentina.

    The $165-million spacecraft, designed to retrieve soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos, was meant to be Russia's first successful interplanetary mission in over two decades.

    But it became stuck in orbit after a botched launch on November 8, and has since been slowly losing altitude due to gravity's pull.

    Experts say the falling space junk poses little risk. The probe's aluminum fuel tank is expected to burn up high in the atmosphere.

    "If anyone gets to see it, it will be a fabulous show. I don't think there has been an explosion of such a large volume of fuel in space history," Igor Marinin, editor of the space journal Novosti Kosmonavtiki, told Reuters.

    Some 20 to 30 small pieces of debris with a total weight of 200 kg (440 lbs) could hit Earth, Roskosmos said, adding that a tiny radioactive cargo of Cobalt-57 was too small to cause harm.

    One component likely to survive re-entry is a small return capsule specifically designed to crash-land back on Earth in 2014, mission scientist Alexander Zakharov said.

    "This is the capsule that was meant to bring back samples from Phobos, it's disappointing," Zakharov said. "We're hoping Roskosmos will approve a new craft to accomplish this mission."

    Phobos-Grunt was one of five botched launches last year that marred celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's pioneering first human space flight and hurt Moscow's pride.

    In an apparent attempt to deflect blame, Russia's space agency chief hinted foreign sabotage might be the reason.

    "I don't want to blame anyone, but there are very powerful means to interfere with spacecraft today whose use cannot be ruled out," Vladimir Popovkin told the daily Izvestia.

    Stargazers worldwide are watching for reentry, including the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordinating Committee, an offshoot of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

    Under a U.N. space convention, Russia could be liable to pay compensation for any harm caused by bits of falling spacecraft.

    In 1981, the Soviet Union paid Canada $3 million for the cost of cleaning up radioactive debris scattered in the crash of a Soviet nuclear-powered reconnaissance satellite, Kosmos 954.

    With most of the planet's surface covered by water, Russia's errant space probe is likely to splash into the ocean.

    When NASA's defunct Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell out of orbit in September, it showered debris into the Pacific Ocean. Germany's Rosat X-ray telescope re-entered a month later over the Bay of Bengal.
    "Slavery is the daughter of darkness; an ignorant people is the blind instrument of its own destruction; ambition and intrigue take advantage of the credulity and inexperience of men who have no political, economic or civil knowledge. They mistake pure illusion for reality, license for freedom, treason for patriotism, vengeance for justice."-Simón Bolívar

  2. #2
    The Pikey Hunter
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    Interesting.....

    It's orbital track passes right over Bangkok on it's next orbit, around the time it is due to fall..... http://www.lizard-tail.com/isana/tra...t=phobos_grunt

  3. #3
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    Spacecraft Could Crash Land On M4 Corridor


    8:42am UK, Saturday January 14, 2012
    Thomas Moore, science correspondent

    An out of control Russian spacecraft could crash land on southern England sometime this weekend, scientists have warned.

    The minibus-sized Phobos Grunt is loaded with 11 tons of fuel that was supposed to take it to Mars and one of its moons.
    But the on-board computer failed shortly after take-off in November and the spacecraft's orbit of the Earth has been getting lower ever since.
    Chief engineer at the UK Space Agency Professor Richard Crowther said it is expected to explode as it enters the atmosphere, scattering debris along a 200km track - anywhere between the M4 corridor and the Falkland Islands.
    But he told Sky News that fragments are most likely to fall into the sea: "If you look at the Earth from space, most of it is covered by water.
    "The UK is very small by comparison. The probability of it falling in such a small area is very, very low.
    "It doesn't keep me awake at night."
    The spacecraft has been stuck in Earth's orbit for over two months

    The Russian space agency Roscosmos estimates that between 20 and 30 fragments, weighing 200kg in total, will make it back to the Earth's surface.
    RAF Fylingdales in Yorkshire, which normally scans the skies for nuclear missiles, will track the craft's re-entry.
    But scientists say it's impossible to predict exactly where and when Phobos Grunt will plummet through the atmosphere. Even on its last 90-minute orbit of the Earth they will only be able to predict where the debris will land to within 4,300km.
    Prof Crowther said one object a day falls from orbit. Most are small - such as spanners dropped by astronauts - and burn up completely on re-entry.
    But he warned that space agencies must in future design satellites to disintegrate when they plummet to Earth.
    "Rather than making them as robust as possible, so they survive the hazardous environment of space, we should design them to break up and burn up on entry so as little as possible makes it down to Earth," he said.

  4. #4
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    I'm telling you, those fucking martians do not want to be found.

    Phobos-Grunt probe 'crashes in Pacific'


    Updated January 16, 2012 11:03:25
    Crashed into ocean: Russian Federal Space Agency specialists prepare the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft on October 18, 2011.




    Russia believes fragments of its Phobos-Grunt probe, which fell back to Earth after malfunctioning during a mission to Mars, crashed into the Pacific Ocean early this morning.
    The splashdown marks an inglorious end for the spacecraft, which Russia launched in November with the aim of scooping up a sample from Mars' largest moon Phobos and bringing it back to Earth.
    "According to information from mission control of the space forces, the fragments of Phobos Grunt should have fallen into the Pacific Ocean at 17:45 GMT (4:45am AEDT)," spokesman Alexei Zolotukhin told the Interfax news agency.
    There was no immediate comment from Russia's space agency Roscosmos, which throughout the day, as the probe approached Earth, had given wildly different predictions about where it could land.
    Mr Zolotukhin said that the space forces had closely followed the probe's course.
    "This has allowed us to ascertain the place and time of the fall of the craft with a great degree of accuracy," he told Interfax.
    According to the ITAR-TASS news agency, the probe should have splashed down 1,250 kilometres west of the island of Wellington off the coast of Chile.
    A landing in the ocean would be a huge relief for Russia after earlier reports suggested it could crash into the territory of South America, possibly Argentina.
    However in a sign that the final crash site had yet to be confirmed, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russian ballistics experts as saying Phobos-Grunt had splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Brazil.
    Rather than heading out on the expedition to Mars, Phobos-Grunt after its November 9 launch instead became stuck in an Earth orbit that became lower and lower as it becomes increasingly tugged by the Earth's gravity.
    The unmanned $US165 million vessel is one of the largest objects to re-enter the atmosphere since Russia brought down the Soviet-era Mir space station in 2001.
    Star-gazers reported the gold-coloured vessel emitting a bright orange glow as it traversed the globe in an eastward direction between London to the north and New Zealand to the south.
    The craft is loaded with 11,000 tonnes of toxic fuel - enough to take it to Phobos - and a Chinese satellite it had been due to put in orbit around the Red Planet under a landmark deal with Beijing.
    Roscosmos predicted that only 20 or 30 segments weighing no more than 200 kilograms in total will survive the explosive re-entry and actually hit the Earth's surface.
    Fuel risks

    Russian and NASA scientists have downplayed the risks posed by the fuel, predicting that it should burn up in the atmosphere before reaching the Earth's surface.
    The fuel is stored in tanks of light aluminium - not the sturdy titanium used by the now-retired US space shuttle - with a relatively low melting point.
    The ignominious ending for the probe provides a bitter reminder for Russia of the prowess it has lost in the half-century since Yuri Gagarin's historic first space flight in 1961.
    The ambitious project had initially aimed to revive Russia's interplanetary program and prepare the way for a manned mission to Mars.
    The accident represents one of the more high-profile mishaps in a year littered with unprecedented setbacks for the once-vaunted Russian space program.
    It struck less than three months after an unmanned Progress supply ship bound for the International Space Station crashed into Siberia.
    Russia also lost three navigation satellites as well as an advanced military satellite and a telecommunications satellite in the past year.
    AFP

  5. #5
    Have you got any cheese Thetyim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda
    The craft is loaded with 11,000 tonnes of toxic fuel
    Good reporting

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thetyim View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda
    The craft is loaded with 11,000 tonnes of toxic fuel
    Good reporting
    You'd think if it was that much, in aluminium tanks, that it would have lit the bloody night sky up for miles around.


  7. #7
    I am in Jail

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    Glad it did not crash on Thailand... those russian shits know nothing about nothing.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Thetyim View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda
    The craft is loaded with 11,000 tonnes of toxic fuel
    Good reporting
    You'd think if it was that much, in aluminium tanks, that it would have lit the bloody night sky up for miles around.

    Magnesium alloy would have given a hell of a show!

  9. #9
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    It was probably russian steel.. russian bastards do not know a thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carrabow View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Thetyim View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda
    The craft is loaded with 11,000 tonnes of toxic fuel
    Good reporting
    You'd think if it was that much, in aluminium tanks, that it would have lit the bloody night sky up for miles around.

    Magnesium alloy would have given a hell of a show!

  10. #10
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    I bet the chinkies are a bit pissed off about their spacecraft as well.

    The Russkies don't appear to be very good at this.

    Phobos-Grunt was one of five botched launches last year

  11. #11
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    Russian Space Captain probably had 4 vodka bottles empty before takeoff and then some.

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