Contact Made with Russia’s Errant Mars Probe

Posted November 23rd, 2011 at 6:25 am (UTC-5)
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Contact has been established with Russia's Phobus-Grunt space probe.

The European Space Agency said Wednesday that a European tracking station, in western Australia, made contact with the errant Mars probe.

Engineers must now figure out how best to maintain radio communications with the spacecraft.

The Phobus-Grunt probe was launched November 9 from Baikonour. Minutes after launch the booster engines failed to fire, preventing the probe from exiting Earth's atmosphere.

Space agencies around the world have been trying to establish contact with the spacecraft before onboard batteries lost power.

The probe was designed to travel to Mar's moon Phobus, retrieve soil samples and return the samples to Earth by 2014.

It is not clear if there is any chance of salvaging the mission.