[meteorite-list] Russia To Launch Craft To Mars, Phobos in 2009
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue Sep 19 13:54:59 2006
Russia to launch craft to Mars, Phobos in 2009 - scientist
September 19, 2006
MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Russia will launch a spacecraft to
Phobos, the larger of Mars' two moons, in 2009, which will return to
Earth with a sample of its soil, a project developer said Tuesday.
Dr. Efraim Akim, of the M.V. Keldysh Institute of Applied Mechanics,
said the craft will be launched from a platform deployed in an
intermediary near-earth orbit.
He said there will be no need to use heavy carrier rockets, which make
such launches very expensive.
The launch window for the voyage to Phobos is October 2009, and the
journey will take 10-11 months. The spacecraft will begin its return
journey to earth in 2011, which will take another 10-11 months.
Phobos is a highly non-spherical moon, orbiting Mars at a distance of
less than 6,000 kilometers (3728 miles), and traveling at a speed faster
than the rotation of Mars itself.
According to Russian Academy of Sciences member Mikhail Marov, Phobos
became a satellite of Mars millions of years ago, so studying material
from the asteroid will give scientists information on the origins of the
Solar System and of the Earth.
Neither NASA nor the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning flights to
Phobos, Marov said. "This is a niche that foreign space agencies have
left us, not only because it is an exceptionally difficult task, but
also because we have already invested work in this area of planetary
The landing will be a complicated operation due to the moon's small size
and high orbital speed.
The spacecraft will use new materials, allowing for a substantial
reduction in weight compared to its predecessors, and high-precision
Earth-based control systems will be employed for the project.
Russian Academy of Sciences President Yury Osipov called the project "a
unique chance for Russia to return to planetary research."
Received on Tue 19 Sep 2006 01:54:50 PM PDT