Failed Russian Mars Probe Crashes Into Pacific Ocean | Digg Topnews
Experts predict that Russia's failed Mars probe Phobos-Grunt will crash back to Earth in mid-January 2012. This artist's concept shows fuel burning from a ruptured fuel tank as the spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere.
CREDIT: Michael Carroll
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A failed Russian Mars probe came crashing back to Earth Sunday (Jan. 15) in a death plunge over the Pacific Ocean, according to Russian news reports.
After languishing in Earth orbit for more than two months, the 14.5-ton
Phobos-Grunt spacecraft fell at around 12:45 p.m. EST (1745 GMT) Sunday, apparently slamming into the atmosphere over a stretch of the southern Pacific off the coast of Chile, Russian officials told the Ria Novosti news agency.
"Phobos-Grunt fragments have crashed down in the Pacific Ocean," Alexei Zolotukhin, an official with Russia's Defense Ministry, was quoted by Ria Novosti as saying. Zolotukhin said that the spacecraft crashed about 776 miles (1,250 kilometers) west of the island of Wellington, the news agency reported.
Before the crash, Russia's Federal Space Agency, known as Roscosmos, released a map that estimated a potential crash zone in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean sometime between 12:50 p.m. and 1:34 p.m. EST (1750-1834 GMT) on Sunday.