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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 26, 2005 12:16:27 GMT -6
Russia planning double assault on Mars
Russia is planning two uncrewed Mars missions, according to press reports.
The first, in 2009, is a mission to orbit Mars and land on the tiny moon Phobos, where a rover would roam for three years. There, it would collect samples of soil to bring back to Earth – the first ever if successful. The second mission, scheduled for 2015, is to place a lander on the surface of the Red Planet.
A further advantage of landing on Phobos is that it is very close to Mars – just 9000 kilometres above the surface. From that vantage point, a spacecraft could also make detailed measurements of Mars.
The proximity of Mars means Phobos is likely to have pieces of the planet on it. When large meteorites crash into Mars, they kick up rocks and soil. The finest particles are launched into orbit around Mars, where Phobos sweeps some of them up.