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Space Communications Mars

ESA Ends Attempts To Pick Up Phobos-Grunt Signals 40

Spaceflight Now reports that hope has faded in the attempts to hear from the troubled Phobos-Grunt probe, and the listening project has been shuttered. After the craft's launch, says the article, "ESA continued trying to establish communications this week with tracking stations in Australia and the Canary Islands, but the 29,000-pound Phobos-Grunt spacecraft never responded. ... The agency's communications site in Perth, Australia, contacted Phobos-Grunt at least twice Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, but the probe has remained mysteriously silent since then." (Similar coverage also at the BBC.) See for a more detailed timeline.
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ESA Ends Attempts To Pick Up Phobos-Grunt Signals

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  • by DanielRavenNest ( 107550 ) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @11:44AM (#38250012)

    From satellite orbit data posted at [] I'm estimating it will re-enter in the first few days of January. Current decay rate is 1 km per day in average altitude from an orbit that is 215 km low x 310 km high points. This will double in about 14 days as it encounters thicker atmosphere, with doubling times cut in half each 20 km of height until it hits 120 km or so on it's last orbit. Since it has a large amount of fuel in tanks not protected by heat shields, it will a unique and spectacular "rapid disassembly" whenever reentry heating causes the tanks to fail. My best guess is around 80 km altitude.

  • Re:QC vs FSB (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @11:55AM (#38250106) Homepage

    That is an incredibly damning report. No prototype. Minimal testing. Rewiring the steering controls (and I mean soldering and unsoldering) while the fueled craft is on the pad. Whatcouldpossiblygowrong? If that report is to be believed, hell, if half of it is to be believed, there is no way that probe would have made it there.

    One thing that really bothers me - no description of sterilizing the craft. In fact, if you're rewiring on the pad, that implies that it's not sterile (and your staff isn't particularly sane). It's fine if the Russians want to play around blowing up things around earth. It's what humans do - but it would be much better if they behaved responsibly.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl