ESA to make 5 attempts to receive data from Russian probe

A tracking station in Perth, Australia, will make five attempts early on Thursday to receive telemetry from a Russian Mars probe that has been stuck at a low-Earth orbit since after its launch, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday.

“We will make five attempts to get the telemetry data from Russia’s Phobos-Grunt spacecraft,” ESA spokesman Rene Pischel said. “Each attempt will continue for 6-7 minutes.”

The Perth station established first contact with Phobos-Grunt on Tuesday, but it was not ready to receive the data from the spacecraft.

The Mars probe was launched from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on November 9. A Zenit carrier rocket put the spacecraft into an initial elliptical based orbit, but the probe failed to fire its engines to put it on course for the Red Planet.

All Russian attempts to establish communications with the spacecraft have been unsuccessful.

Experts believe that the Mars mission has failed as the last “window of opportunity” for sending the probe on course to Mars closed on Monday, but obtaining telemetric data from the spacecraft could help to find out the causes of the failure and make adjustments for future interplanetary missions.

Meanwhile, the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos has already said it will focus on the Moon as its next step in space research.


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