Fragments of 'stranded' Phobos-Grunt may fall back to Earth

   Jan 2, 2:10 pm

London, Jan 2 (ANI): Fragments of Russian space craft Phobos-Grunt, which got stranded in low Earth orbit while on its way to Mars last year, are expected to strike Earth next week.

The 13.5 tonne Phobos-Grunt has been circling Earth since November when rocket boosters failed to ignite and send the spaceship on its journey to the Martian moon of Phobos, the Guardian reported.

The spacecraft underwent a computer malfunction after launch and when the Russian space agency, Roscosmos repeatedly failed to contact the rocket, it had to dump the mission.

Officials at Roscosmos revealed that 20 to 30 fragments of Phobos-Grunt, weighing a total of 200kg, might fall back to Earth.

One of the parts most likely to survive includes cone-shaped sample return capsule that is protected with a heat shield. The capsule was designed to survive a crash landing without a parachute.

Any components that are not vaporised during re-entry will probably fall into the ocean or land in thinly populated areas.

The spacecraft, the largest planetary rocket ever built by Russia, was created to return rock samples from Phobos, the first time material would have been brought back from the moon of another planet.

The rocket was meant for delivering a Chinese Mars orbiter and carried containers of bacteria to test their survival in space. (ANI)

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