PhobosGrunt launching today in a bid to collect Mars moondust

first_imgRussia is hoping to launch its Phobos-Grunt spacecraft today in a bid to collect Moondust from the surface of Mars‘ larger moon named Phobos.The mission is Russia’s first trip to Mars since the failed Mars 96 mission 15 years ago, which had a second fourth-stage burn failure and re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Russia is hoping for a successful outcome this time, but so are China and the Planetary Society who are piggybacking Phobos-Grunt with their own equipment and experiments.For China, Phobos-Grunt is the means of transport for its Yinghuo-1 satellite destined to orbit Mars for at least 2 years. Once there, it will feedback information on the upper atmosphere of the planet and the space environment around it.The Planetary Society will have a canister placed on board Phobos-Grunt called Phobos LIFE. Inside the canister will live millions of organisms consisting of bacteria, eukaryota, and archaea. The idea of the LIFE project is to see if the organisms, and therefore life, can survive extended periods in space, and if so, proving that life could be transported inside meteoroids.If Phobos-Grunt is successful, it will return to Earth in 3 years having launched the Chinese satellite and bringing back moondust and the well-traveled selection of organisms. In so doing it should expand our knowledge of both the planet and space travel considerably.The only issues that could stop the launch happening today are a problem with one of the launch systems or spacecraft itself, or adverse weather conditions. Whatever happens, there’s sure to be a few nervous people involved in the project remembering what happened to Mars 96. We hope everything goes to plan and we get to learn a lot more about Mars from both the satellite and the moondust when it arrives in 2014.More at Scientific American and RussianSpaceWeblast_img read more