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Mars Space Science

Russians Can't Make Contact With Busted Space Probe 117

New submitter benfrog writes "Despite repeated attempts over the past few days, Russia is unable to make contact with Phobos-Grunt, the probe that was supposed to make it to Mars and never left Earth's atmosphere. Estimates now vary widely on the time left to contact the probe, but it is descending toward Earth and will likely turn into scrap before it can be reached." Official information is still hard to come by, but the Planetary Society Weblog has been keeping up with the story.
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Russians Can't Make Contact With Busted Space Probe

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  • More of the same (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Titoxd ( 1116095 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:29PM (#38028658) Homepage

    And Mars continues to give Russia a big, fat middle finger. No Russian/Soviet probe has successfully completed a mission to the Red Planet...

  • by Wierdy1024 ( 902573 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:35PM (#38028722)

    Plenty of good spacecraft suffer software malfunctions and fail as a result, and most failures end up with the craft not returning any data about what went wrong. Future crafts end up sent with exactly the same problems because we never find out about them.

    There already exist plans for tiny satellites which can transmit a radio signal back to earth - eg. the Kicksat :

    Why not glue lots of these Kicksats, self powered, to the outside of any spacecraft - maybe connect a few to internal data systems to collect more data. Now if the spacecraft blows up, if even a few survive the explosion, their radio signals can be tracked precisely by a reverse-gps scheme (where you triangulate exact position from many ground stations) allowing a realtime 3D model of the parts of the spacecraft which have kicksats on to be produced. Since some have connections to the internal monitoring systems, if only a few survive they can transmit data back to the ground very slowly over the next few days (very slowly since they have very limited transmission power)

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @07:12PM (#38030548) Journal

    ... our turn is next with the very expensive (most expensive since Viking?) extremely ambitious (nuclear powered, "sky crane" lowered) giant (size of a mini-cooper) rover with no-backup! (no second rover)? Complete with rock vaporizing laser and 3D stereo cams!

    Seriously, there's gonna be a lot of fingernail biting about 6 months after the (hopefully successful) liftoff on Nov. 25. If you want to see how how crazy the whole landing scheme is try googling the video for "Curiosity". Not being an engineer I'm not qualified to comment on how good an approach this is but it sure looks scary. Forget airbags or soft landers, instead think maybe Tarzan or special forces insertion (a la killing Osama Bin Laden).

    Anyway, if you're in Southern California then, call in sick and head over to Pasadena. They usually have a live feed at the convention center for things like this.

  • Re:More of the same (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ElusiveJoe ( 1716808 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @07:18PM (#38030596)

    Being somewhat close to one of the Russian space projects, I can say it's not the funding that is the problem. It's that everyone care only about sucking as much money as possible from different sources and getting away with it. Burying several billion $ project in space is a perfect example of this attitude. You'll see, no one will be held responsible for this, it's just *puff*, and all the money has sadly disappeared with no result because of some unfortunate event.

    Whenever you hear about another ambitious Russian project, remember: science in Russia is dead. Period.

    In fact I'd advise not doing any business with Russia at all.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982