Russia launches Phobos-Grunt mission, to collect Mars moon dust (Video)

By on Nov 9, 2011 in Astronomy, Europe, Science Comments

Russia launched on Wednesday, November 09, 2011 its Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, as shown in the video below. Its mission is to get soil samples or dust from Phobos, a moon of Mars.

As noted at on Tuesday, the unmanned Phobos-Grunt was launched at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday 12:16 a.m. (Russia time), or Tuesday 3:16 p.m. EST.

According to the report, the Russian spacecraft is being expected to reach Phobos in October 2012 and may carry up to 200 grams (7 ounces) of soil and return to Earth in August 2014.

Phobos is known to be a potato-shaped moon 16 miles (27 kilometers) long, which astronomers notably believe is a captured asteroid and hopes to learn more when the mission returns, 33 months later.

Apparently, this $163-million Phobos-Grunt (‘grunt‘ means soil in Russia) mission was said to be the 21th attempt of Russia and the last one was in 1996 but crashed due to engine problem.

“We want to study the characteristics of the Martian satellites and understand their evolution,” Phobos-Grunt‘s lead scientist Alexander Zakharov was quoted at National Geographic news.

“The origin of the Martian satellite system may give a clue to the formation of satellite systems of the other planets.” Zakharov added, with the previous Russian Mars missions attempt failed.

The Phobos-Grunt mission was funded by the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the spacecraft was carried by Zenit-2SB booster rocket, along with Chinese satellite called Yinghuo 1, which will separate from Phobos-Grunt and go into orbit around Mars.

Russia launches Phobos-Grunt
Video Credit: Russia’s Federal Space Agency/TVv-Tsenki/YouTube

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