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Phobos-Grunt may fall to Earth PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 November 2011 09:58

Today appeared the first reports about the proposed date of the fall of the Russian interplanetary automatic station "Phobos-Grunt." U.S. Strategic Command reported, that Russian "Phobos-Grunt" may fall to Earth on 26 November 2011, for "Phobos-Grunt" was even assigned a catalog number for falling to Earth objects - 37 872.

However, there were also reports, that Russian experts in the night from November 9 to November 10, 2011 had at least two sessions with the "Phobos-Grunt", which is currently orbiting the Earth, but did not report about the results of these communications, therefore very probably, that the "Phobos-Grunt" is lost forever, since a few days almost continuous attempts to restore of the "Phobos-Grunt" have not met with practical success.

Space station "Phobos-Grunt" was launched into space by carrier rocket "Zenit" on November 9, 2011 at 0:16 Moscow time. Despite the fact, that the first flight took place in the normal mode, but soon after the separation from the launch vehicle and enter the reference orbit around the Earth, but afterward did not work boosters, which were to take the "Phobos-Grunt "on a trajectory to Mars. So soon the head of Russian Federal Space Agency Vladimir Popovkin said, that the problem, presumably related to the loss of orientation and Russian specialists on Earthm have three days until the batteries on the board of "Phobos-Grunt for reprogramming of the station. Later on the website of the Federal Space Agency of Russia, it was reported, that the charge of the batteries enough for two weeks.

"Phobos-Grunt" was in development since 1998, but in 2004 the project has been reviewed and as a basis for "Phobos-Grunt" it was decided to take the platform "Navigator". Russian Academy of Sciences and the Central Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering were prepared Mars exploration, the first phase of which was the project "Phobos-Grunt." Russian "Phobos-Grunt" is intended for delivery on Earth the soil samples of Phobos, a satellite of Mars, to further identify the physico-chemical characteristics of the soil.

"Phobos-Grunt" in 1998 has been adopted as the main Martian project in the near future. But due to the fact, that the calculated mass of the interplanetary station "Phobos-Grunt" exceeded the capacity of the carrier rocket "Soyuz", was supposed use the efficient low-thrust engines.

Together with the  "Phobos-Grunt", the Russian upper stage should to deliver on orbit of Mars the Chinese microsatellite.

"Phobos-Grunt" should to go into an elliptical orbit with an apogee of about 80 thoUSAnd kilometers, after which it should to go into a low orbit observations and further should to go to the quasi-orbit near Phobos, followed by landing on the surface of Phobos. Within days, the "Phobos-Grunt" should to conduct the study area of the landing on the surface of Phobos the soil sampling, loading them into the recovery vehicle, which then should to go back to Earth. A separate module RK PM should always remain on the surface of Phobos and continue to study of Phobos and Mars.

Arrival of station was scheduled on September 29, 2012, and then, in February 2013 - landing AMC "Phobos-Grunt" on Phobos and in August 2013 - flight back to Earth. In July 2014 it was expected the arrival of the recovery vehicle to Earth with 100 grams of soil from the surface of Phobos. Total time of the expedition should estimated the three years. Launch weight of "Phobos-Grunt" is 13 200 kilograms.

But the main danger in the fall to Earth the "Phobos-Grunt" is not in the value of starting weight, but in the presence on board of the AMC "Phobos-Grunt" seven tons of highly toxic hydrazine and nitrogen tetraksid that are in the tanks of the station. Therefore, AMC "Phobos-Grunt" may be the biggest cosmic object, that caused the most serious consequences of a fall to Earth.

For quite a long time, it was noted, that most of the missions to Mars failed: only near the Mars were lost more than 10 automatic stations and from 1960 were lost 22 automatic stations designed for Mars exploration- is much greater, than the number of stations, designed to study all the other space objects: the Soviet Union and Russia lost 14 stations, the U.S. lost 6 stations, one station lost Europe and Japan lost also one station.


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