|arya||Date: Thursday, 02-February-2012, 6:02 PM | Message # 1|
|MOSCOW — Russia on Tuesday blamed a computer malfunction caused by the impact of cosmic rays for the failure of its Phobos-Grunt mission to Mars, one of a litany of setbacks for its embattled space programme. |
Announcing the initial results of the investigation into the Mars mission, Russian space agency Roscosmos also revealed the next manned launch to the International Space Station would be delayed due to technical problems.
The Phobos-Grunt probe -- which was to have brought home a sample of soil from Mars' largest moon -- crashed back to Earth earlier this month after becoming stuck in Earth's orbit shortly after its launch in November.
"The most likely reason in the commission's opinion is the local influence of heavy charged particles from outer space on the onboard computer system," Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.
The unmanned probe was launched November 9 in an ambitious mission to fly to Mars's largest moon, Phobos, in a first step towards Russia's dream of taking a manned mission to Mars.
But it failed to leave a low orbit around Earth, before gradually descending and crashing on January 15 over the Pacific Ocean.
Cosmic rays apparently led the onboard computer system to experience memory problems after launch which led to parts of the system restarting and going into energy-saving mode, the Roscosmos chief said.
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