ESA Makes Contact With Borked Russian Mars Probe

By Sam Gibbs on at

Sitting dead in Earth's orbit thanks to a premature engine shutoff, Russia's Mars-digging probe has been giving ground controllers the cold shoulder for 14 days. An ESA tracking station in Australia has now, finally, managed to make contact.

There's still a small window of opportunity to get Phobos-Grunt, which houses China's Yinghuo-1 satellite and a bunch of super hardy bacteria, back on track to Mars before it burns through the fuel needed to get there. The ESA said:

"Teams are working closely with engineers in Russia to determine how best to maintain communication with the spacecraft."

With a bit of luck they'll be able to get the latest in a long line of ill-fated Russian space craft bound for Mars soon. The initial plan was to go digging on Mars' closest moon and to return to Earth with samples for analysis. Meanwhile, the hunt for Martians continues unabated. [ESA via The Register, Wired UK]