Fobos -Grunt (Russian Фобос - Грунт, English Phobos -Grunt translated, Phobos - soil) was a Russian space probe to Mars moon Phobos (Russian Фобос transcribed Fobos ) land, take samples there and they bring in a small return capsule to Earth should. Furthermore, the remaining on the Phobos landing station should investigate Mars and Phobos for a long time. The probe was developed by NPO Lavochkin. After the successful launch on November 8, 2011, Fobos -Grunt was in a parking orbit around the Earth. Since the bullet was omitted in the transfer orbit to Mars because of a failure to correct orientation of the probe, the probe could not leave the park orbit. On 15 January 2012, the probe entered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up over the eastern Pacific. It was the first Russian mission to Mars 's unsuccessful Phobos missions and the bust of Mars 96 in 1996.


The development of the probe was launched in 2001, but was barely funded until 2003, so that the originally planned start date was not held in 2007. Only from 2004 funds were sufficiently provided by the Russian government, so you could start with selecting of scientific instruments and the construction of the first components for Fobos -Grunt. The end of 2005 a start of the probe in October 2009 was finally sighted. Russia and China said in June 2005 on joint cooperation in this project. In August 2006, has been confirmed by the Chinese side that there would be cooperation. Later it was announced that Fobos -Grunt should take the Chinese microsatellite Yinghuo -1 and suspend near the Mars; this should then make an independent investigation. The Chinese probe 's task was to circle Mars while the Russian lander to land on the moon Phobos to take soil samples there. This lander was equipped with devices that have been developed by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. There were also plans to take two MetNet Mars landing probes as payload.

The original plans envisaged for Fobos -Grunt in front of an ion drive, which has been replaced by an ordinary chemical propulsion. Thus, the probe was indeed severe, that is, there was less scientific payload to be taken, but the time of flight to Mars would have been reduced by about 18 to 11 months.

The launch was scheduled first for October 2009. Only a few weeks before the mission was postponed to 2011. The reason the tight schedule was specified that is not been enough time for extensive testing.

Functioning of the mission

Planned expiration

The transfer to Mars should take about 11 months. After entering the Fobos -Grunt Mars orbit would gradually approaching Phobos over a longer time period and to thereby detect the Mars moon but also Mars themselves with their instruments.

After the probe approached close enough to Phobos and their relative velocity would have been negligible to the Martian moon, they would in February 2013 to attempt a landing. With the flyby of Mars Express in March 2010 landing sites have already been selected. Would then be the successful landing, about 200 to 400 grams of soil samples were taken from a drilling rig, the hermetically packaged in a small, eight to nine kilogram return capsule, would have been stored. The capsule had been first brought shortly thereafter with a return of about 270 kg rocket in Mars orbit one, and then start from there toward Earth. The arrival of the capsule on Earth was scheduled for August 2014. The remaining land on Phobos station would have carried out further measurements at their landing site, also they could also observe Mars from the lunar surface.

Actual flow


Fobos -Grunt was launched on 8 November 2011 at 20:16 UTC with a Zenit- 2SB rocket into low Earth orbit. The probe was equipped with a derived from the Fregat upper drive unit called the MDU, which will send the spacecraft to travel to Mars and also the deceleration into Mars orbit should take over. The probe had including driving unit MDU a mass of 13,200 kg of fuel. Due to an error, however, the bullet was not done in the Mars transfer orbit and the probe remained in orbit on 8 November 2011.

Neither Fobos -Grunt nor the ground stations, however, were designed for communication in low Earth orbit. Contact recordings from the Russian stations were unsuccessful, neither could control commands are transmitted, nor received telemetry data. In low Earth orbit, a flight over a ground station only takes a few minutes. Strong bundling satellite antennas need to be updated in that time also to establish a connection to the probe. For this reason, were made to a 15 - m- ESTRACK antenna for ESA in the vicinity of Perth, Australia, changes to accommodate connection to the probe while it is illuminated by the sun and by the solar cells get energy. A contact attempt on 22 November at 20:25 UTC was finally successful. By 25 November 2011, the ESA could not build a new radio contact with the probe. The Russian news agency RIA Novosti have unofficially learned from the space industry that the Russian ground station in Baikonur was the first time receive a signal from the probe on 24 November 2011. The telemetric data contained in the signal suggested that " the radio complex of the apparatus normal" functioning and information " transfer to other main on-board computer ". The cause of the problem competent for the position control star sensor was adopted.

Beginning of December, the launch window to Mars, so that the real mission had failed. The Russian forecasts from January 4, 2012 came true and the defective probe crashed on January 15, 2012 in the Pacific off South America. However, the 10 micrograms of Cobalt -57 from an experiment should pose no threat.

On January 15, 2012 Fobos -Grunt occurred at 18:45 CET clock into the Earth's atmosphere and burned up over the Pacific. According to the RIA Novosti news agency remains hit about 1,250 kilometers west of Wellington Island in the Pacific Ocean (46 ° 0 ' S, 87 ° 0' W-46 -87). The investigation of the probe malfunction found as the most likely cause of the failure of two computer systems by cosmic rays. Speculation about influencing the navigation instruments by an American radar station in the Marshall Islands were so baseless.