The Phobos-Grunt Probe Cries Out From A Watery Grave

Remember when Roscosmos Director Vladimir Popovkin didn’t want to “accuse anybody” of shooting down the Phobos-Grunt Mars Probe?

That isn’t so much the case anymore.

Phobos-Grunt fell to Earth on Sunday and splashed down (in pieces) somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. We’re still not sure where, exactly, but it’s safe to say that, clearly, the probe will go sailing no more.

The Tell-Tale Probe

As the probe fell backwards to Earth, Popovkin made comments alluding to the possibility of external forces interfering with its ability to navigate, but didn’t outright accuse anyone.

That was last week.

This week, Yury Koptev of Russian Technologies explicitly claimed that a United States asteroid-tracking radar in the Marshall Islands may have interfered with the doomed Mars probe, causing its failure.

According to the Daily Mail:

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted an ex-official saying investigators will conduct tests to check if U.S. radar emissions could have impacted the Phobos-Ground space probe

Daily MailDid a U.S. radar mistakenly send Russia’s $170m Mars probe into the Pacific?

Experts in the United States have stated that such a thing is “not at all plausible.” Not only is there not an “asteroid-tracking radar” in the Marshall Islands, any potentially interfering radar emissions could not have reached the probe’s position in low-Earth orbit.

They are suggesting, instead, that Russia focus more on domestic reasons for the probe’s failure.

Onward To The Edge

Hubble Captures Farthest Protocluster Of Galaxies Ever Seen
Image: Flickr/ NASA, ESA, M. Trenti, L. Bradley, and the BoRG team via CC by 2.0

At the end of the day, space exploration is a human endeavor, not a national one.

We should be working together for the progress of humanity.

For the most part, we are, as NASA and Russia have collaborated for years, and reports suggest NASA had even worked with Roscosmos during the Phobos-Grunt probe situation.

Especially now that the space shuttle program has been discontinued, we must rely on each other to increase our knowledge of the universe beyond our own little place in the cosmos.

This unfortunate back-and-forth between Russia and the United States does nothing more than distract us.


Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. For nearly 10 years, he's managed Stranger Dimensions, providing a unique perspective on all matters involving time travel, parallel universes, and whether or not robots might one day take over the world.

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