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    Russia to test unmanned lander for Mars moon mission

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    Russian scientists are due to carry out tests of an unmanned lander that will be used in a 2011 mission to Phobos, one of the moons of Mars.

    Russian scientists are due to carry out tests of an unmanned lander that will be used in a 2011 mission to Phobos, one of the moons of Mars.

    The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft will be sent to the surface of Phobos and will then fly back to Earth with soil samples.

    "The aim of the test is to narrow down the lander's projected impact location on the surface of the Earth," a statement by the Central Aerodynamic Institute said.

    "As far as the lander...does not include any signaling equipment...narrowing down its projected impact area will make the search for it easier," the statement added.

    The project was conceived in 1999 and envisioned a multi-purpose mission to Mars. The authors of the project said the biggest ground-based radio telescopes cannot provide the necessary precision and proposed the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, designed by the Lavochkin Russian scientific association (NPO) as a platform for the mission.

    In June 2006, NPO Lavochkin announced it has started manufacturing and testing the development version of the spacecraft's onboard equipment.

    The mission is expected to begin in November 2011 and last some 330 days.

    MOSCOW, September 9 (RIA Novosti) 

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