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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Sept 25, 2006 5:11:26 GMT -6
Russia Hopes To Launch Craft To Mission Mars Moon Phobos In 2009
Moscow (RIAN) Sep 25, 2006 Russia will launch a spacecraft to Phobos, the larger of Mars' two moons, in 2009, which will return to Earth with a sample of its soil, a project developer said Tuesday. Dr. Efraim Akim, of the M.V. Keldysh Institute of Applied Mechanics, said the craft will be launched from a platform deployed in an intermediary near-earth orbit.
He said there will be no need to use heavy carrier rockets, which make such launches very expensive.
The launch window for the voyage to Phobos is October 2009, and the journey will take 10-11 months. The spacecraft will begin its return journey to earth in 2011, which will take another 10-11 months.
Neither NASA nor the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning flights to Phobos, Marov said. "This is a niche that foreign space agencies have left us, not only because it is an exceptionally difficult task, but also because we have already invested work in this area of planetary research."
The landing will be a complicated operation due to the moon's small size and high orbital speed.
The spacecraft will use new materials, allowing for a substantial reduction in weight compared to its predecessors, and high-precision Earth-based control systems will be employed for the project.
Russian Academy of Sciences President Yury Osipov called the project "a unique chance for Russia to return to planetary research."