Russia: Signal picked up from Russia’s stranded Mars probe

Contact has finally been made with Russia’s troubled Mars mission, says the European Space Agency (Esa).

The agency reports that its tracking station in Perth, Australia, picked up a signal from the Phobos-Grunt probe.

Esa 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 withthe spacecraft and fix it.

Phobos-Grunt still has a short window in which to start its journey before a change in the alignment of the planets makes the distance to the Red Planet too big to cross.

Low power

The European Space Operations Centre (Esoc) in Darmstadt, Germany, reports that the contact was made at 2025 GMT on Tuesday.

The agency had to modify its 15m dish in Perth to get through to Phobos-Grunt. This required widening the antenna’s beam to catch the probe in its uncertain orbit.

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Categories: Europe, Russia

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