Saturday, December 17, 2011

Failed Mars Probe's Fall From Space May Help Re-Entry Predictions

Date: 16 December 2011 Time: 11:47 AM ET
Phobos-Grunt Spacecraft Burns in Re-entry
Hope is fading regarding the salvage of a Russian Marscraft, stuck in low Earth orbit. If indeed the craft is not brought under control, this artist's concept shows burning fuel as it streams from a ruptured fuel tank as the doomed Phobos-Grunt spacecraft reenters Earth's atmosphere.
CREDIT: Michael Carroll
Russia’s troubled Phobos-Grunt probe, stuck in the wrong orbit for more than a month, appears to be headed for a fiery and uncontrolled fall back to Earth early next month.
Tracking experts are predicting that Phobos-Grunt will re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Jan. 9, 2012, but at present, the forecast includes an uncertainty of plus or minus 5 1/2 days. Some analysts are even suggesting that the spacecraft could see its demise as early as Jan. 1 or 2.
Meanwhile, the uncontrolled tumble of Phobos-Grunt into Earth's atmosphere is being eyed as a possible way to sharpen computer tools to more accurately calculate re-entry predictions.



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