Another monster piece of scrap space junk aka Phobos Grunt is expected to fall back to earth in early 2012.
I wonder where the bits will end up this time? It’s been a bumper time over the last few months for falling space debris…
First it was UARS in September and then ROSAT in October 2011.
The unmanned Phobos-Grunt spacecraft became stranded in orbit in November. Russia’s space agency (Roscosmos) says its unsuccessful Mars probe will fall back to Earth next month.
The agency says it expects the toxic fuel on board to burn up on re-entry, but 20-30 fragments of the spacecraft will survive to the surface.
Current Roscosmos estimates for the timing of the fall are between 6 and 19 January 2012, but this window will be narrowed nearer the event.
According to Russian Sources, attempts to communicate with the spacecraft will continue on a daily basis until re-entry. Russian Officials and personnel of NPO Lavochkin, the Spacecraft Designer, have declared the mission a failure and do not see any chance of it accomplishing any of its objectives.
Phobos-Grunt is a fairly large re-entering Object. With a mass of 13,500 Kilograms, its mass is more than double that of NASA’s UARS Satellite that re-entered in September. It is also bigger than the German ROSAT that plunged back to Earth in October. Most of its mass is made up of toxic and explosive propellants. A total of about 11,150 Kilograms of propellants were inside the vehicle’s tanks at liftoff. Phobos-Grunt uses Hydrazine and Dinitrogen Tetroxide as propellants.
December 13, 2011:
Current Orbit: 283x201km
Period: 89.3 min
Argument of Perigee: 178.24°
Re-Entry Prediction: January 11, 2012 +/- 5 Days
Estimated Re-Entry Zone: No Prediction
Data supplied by Space101 website.
Check out the tweets from @PhG_Reentry at the bottom of the right hand column of this blog.