by Andrew W. Griffin
December 6, 2011
We have been watching the drama
involving the ailing Russian Phobos-Grunt (a.k.a Fobos-Grunt or “Phobos-soil")
spacecraft with great interest, as the probe appears to be stranded
in Earth orbit, likely to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn
up, perhaps as soon as next month.
In fact, latest reports on the $170 million Phobos-Grunt craft
suggest that Russian scientists "have given up on any hope of
regaining even minimal control" over the probe and that it is likely
breaking apart, if reports from the U.S. Army Strategic Command, as
reported today in The Moscow Times, are accurate.
Launched on Nov. 9 (11/9/11) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan, Phobos-Grunt was designed to take a trip to the
potato-shaped Martian moon of Phobos where it would take samples of
its soil and return to Earth in 2014.
It would have been the first spacecraft
On board was China’s first Mars probe, Yinghuo-1. It was rocketed
into low-Earth orbit and two thrusters that would have sent it on
its way to Phobos failed to operate.
And now that it is expected to crash back to Earth, there is concern
about the highly toxic hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide onboard. But
it is simply expected to burn up before hitting Earth.
So what caused the Phobos-Grunt to fail? It’s not really clear.
Speculation, conspiracy theories and more have been offered up.
After all, it is Phobos that had former NASA astronaut and Moon
landing hero Buzz Aldrin publicly talking about
the mysteries of Phobos, one of Mars's two moons, the other being Deimos.
on C-SPAN in July 2009:
“…(V)isit the moon of Mars. There's
a monolith there - a very unusual structure on this little
potato-shaped object (Phobos) that goes around Mars once every
seven hours. When people find out about that they are going to
say, ‘Who put that there? Who put that there?’ Well, uh, the
universe put it there, or if you choose, God put it there.”
And photos do seem to show an unusual
structure on the surface of the curious little moonlet:
Meanwhile, the Russians are extremely upset about this latest
failure and are looking for someone to blame.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, according to the British news site The Week,
“has threatened severe punishment
for anyone found responsible for the failure of the… Phobos-Grunt.”
Medvedev was quoted in a Nov. 26, 2011
Reuters report that the Phobos-Grunt failure and another recent
disaster involving a cargo ship, taking food and fuel to the
International Space Station, are embarrassing to Russia’s space
program, Roscosmos, and that if it was sabotaged somehow or simply
put together in a sloppy or careless way, they will pay for what
they have done.
“I am not suggesting putting them up
against the wall like under Josef Vissarionovich (Stalin), but
seriously punish either financially or, if the fault is obvious,
it could be a disciplinary or even criminal punishment.”
Russian news network, RT, offered a
report titled “Did U.S. ‘climate weapon’ knock-out Russian probe?”
claim Phobos is artificial
An interesting idea.
It quotes General-Lieutenant Nikolay Rodionov
who suggests that
the HAARP station in Alaska - officially reported
“study… the ionosphere and its use
for communication” - gave off “powerful electromagnetic
radiation” and may have “affected the control system of the
Of course Rodionov may be suggesting
this to distract from the real causes, which may have been in its
design. But its still an interesting idea.
Another site. Joe
Bowman’s Science Blog, asks if there is a “Mars curse,” considering
the high number of failed probes that have tried making it to Mars.
You may remember that in the late 1980s, right before the Soviet
Union fell, the Phobos 1 and 2 probes were launched for similar
reasons. Phobos 1, launched July 7,1988, failed to reach its
destination while Phobos 2, launched a week later, eventually did
get to Mars in early 1989 and did take photos of the Martian moon,
including the controversial "last photo" which included an alleged
UFO of enormous size accompanying Phobos.
Communication with Phobos was soon lost
after this March 1989 photo was taken, leading the Phobos 2 team to
say publicly that it was lost either due to a computer malfunction
or an "impact event" by an unknown object.
Other photos released to
the scientific community by the Soviets may further explain their
current interest in returning to Phobos 23 years later.
At the time, Dr.
Marina Popovich, a former Soviet test pilot known
as Russia's "female Chuck Yeager," smuggled out the photo -
allegedly given to her by famed Soviet Cosmonaut Alexey Leonov and
that both Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and then-President George
H.W. Bush discussed the photo at a European conference.
Popovich, it should be noted,
outspoken about UFO reality."
And then there is the "Phobos-Grunt Conspiracy" video which posits
the idea that it could reenter Earth, falling to the ground like a
"supersonic toxic bomb:"
THE PHOBOS-GRUNT CONSPIRACY
Is the Russian spacecraft, a
biological weapon? -
November 12, 2011
It seems that the Russian space agency won't recover the spacecraft
Phobos-Grunt. Most likely, by now, its batteries are already dead
and it's a matter of time until it deorbits and fall to Earth like a
supersonic toxic bomb. I came across with several evidences pointing
out that the Phobos-Grunt might actually be a biological warfare
experiment and TPTB are using it for cause a massive disaster.
The video also reminds us that also on the Russian probe are The
Planetary Society's "Life Experiment" organisms.
This part of the probe's mission were it
to succeed, would test,
"the survivability of microorganisms
in the conditions of deep space" and is designed to study the "panspermia
hypothesis that microogranisms have, "traveled between planets
sheltered deep inside space rocks," according to Planetary.org.
The aforementioned video also notes that
these organisms could become more virulent while in space, as noted
in prior Space Shuttle missions involving microorganism experiments.
And, bringing to mind the Cold War-era, U.S.-Soviet “space race”
years, while Russia watches Phobos-Grunt’s orbit decay, leading to
its obliteration, NASA successfully launched its own, new Mars
Curiosity, which will, as the Springfield (Mass.)
reported this week,
"try to determine if there
might once have been life of some sort on the Red Planet."
Adds the Republican editorial:
"It has all the elements of a good,
old-fashioned drama, and the best of science fiction, too. The
outcome is unknown. The possibilities infinite, thrilling."
Indeed. Perhaps we are entering a new
time for space exploration, although NASA's current status and
administrative bungling does not inspire much hope that space
exploration is a top priority, as we have reported before in our Red
Dirt Report piece "Humanity's destiny lies in the final frontier."
At this time experts on space travel are suggesting that humans will
likely go to Mars in the 2030s and that the
mysterious moon of Phobos, as reported at
the Daily Galaxy,
“is a vastly promising location for
Continuing, the article notes that Phobos,
“has long been an anomaly; its
orbital characteristics suggest it may be hollow. More
aggressive speculation suggests that Phobos may in fact be a
derelict spacecraft of the ‘generation ark’ variety described by
science writers such as Isaac Asimov.”
But the Daily Galaxy doesn’t stop there.
It states that,
“unexplained surface features such
as the numerous converging grooves, together with the
conspicuous monolith-like formations, plus the possibility that
Phobos harbors uneroded structures deserving of close
And clearly NASA is interested in the
“monolith” or boulder or whatever it is because by investigating the
“could answer questions about the
moon’s composition and history.”
Remember, NASA representatives, whether
in official or unofficial capacity (think Buzz Aldrin), don't go out
publicly talking about mysterious monoliths on equally mysterious
moons unless they really think there's something there worth
checking out (think Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey and its
After all, if Phobos is hollow and
Earth's Moon is also hollow, what does that say about those
celestial bodies and their placement in space near those two
planets? At this point one gets the impression that someone - or
something - doesn't want us poking around Phobos.
But despite these setbacks, many scientists, particularly back here
in the U.S. are hopeful and look forward to visiting Phobos.
Quoting NASA imaging specialist Lars Fleming, the aforementioned
Daily Galaxy article concludes:
“If we can get to that object (the
monolith/boulder), we likely don’t need to go anywhere else.”