ESA picked up a signal from Phobos-Grunt, Russia’s troubled Mars mission
The European Space Agency (ESA) says it has finally contacted Phobos-Grunt, Russia’s troubled Mars mission.
ESA reports that its tracking station in Perth, Australia, picked up a signal from the Phobos-Grunt probe.
The agency is now working with Russian engineers to see how best to maintain communications with the craft.
Phobos-Grunt has been stuck in Earth orbit since its launch on 9 November, unable to fire the engine that would take it on to Mars.
It raises the hope that Russian controllers can establish what is wrong with the spacecraft and fix it.
Phobos-Grunt still has a short window in which to start its journey to Mars before the growing distance from Earth gets too big.
The probe was built to land on the Martian moon, Phobos, and scoop up rock to bring back to Earth.
Such a venture should yield fascinating new insights into the origin of the 27 km-wide moon and the planet it circles.
The mission is also notable because China’s first Mars satellite, Yinghuo-1, has been launched piggy-back on the main Russian spacecraft.
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