11:18 GMT31 March 2020
Listen Live
    Russia

    Russia to launch craft to Mars, Phobos in 2009 - scientist

    Russia
    Get short URL
    0 10
    Subscribe

    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.

    MOSCOW, September 19 (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 research."

    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."

    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via SputnikComment via Facebook