Station makes contact with Russia's stranded Mars probe: ESA

23rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

A European tracking station in western Australia has "established contact" with Russia's Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which has been stranded in orbit since launch on November 8, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday.

"ESA teams are working closely with engineers in Russia to determine how best to maintain communication with the spacecraft," it said in a brief announcement on its website.

"More news will follow later," it said.

The five-billion-ruble ($165 million) mission is one of the most ambitious in the history of Martian exploration.

It is designed to travel to the Martian moon of Phobos, scoop up soil and return the sample to Earth by 2014.

But mission control lost radio contact with the craft hours after launch, leaving engineers without telemetry data to figure out where it was.

On Tuesday, Russia's space agency had said it saw "little chance" of saving the 13.5-tonne probe.

© 2011 AFP

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