Russia’s Ambitious Unmanned Mars Mission Fails

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 15th, 2012

Week in Review

The Russians planned a mission to land a spacecraft on a moon of Mars.  Excavate some material.  And return to Earth.  You’d have to go back to America’s Apollo Moon Program for something as bold.  Unfortunately their mission failed (see Russian space probe crashes into Pacific by VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV posted 1/15/2012 on my way).

A Russian space probe designed to boost the nation’s pride on a bold mission to a moon of Mars came down in flames Sunday, showering fragments into the south Pacific west of Chile’s coast, officials said…

The Phobos-Ground was designed to travel to one of Mars’ twin moons, Phobos, land on it, collect soil samples and fly them back to Earth in 2014 in one of the most daunting interplanetary missions ever. It got stranded in Earth’s orbit after its Nov. 9 launch, and efforts by Russian and European Space Agency experts to bring it back to life failed…

Russia’s space chief has acknowledged the Phobos-Ground mission was ill-prepared, but said that Roscosmos had to give it the go-ahead so as not to miss the limited Earth-to-Mars launch window.

Mars is the Earth’s neighbor.  Phobos-Ground was going to take about 3 years for a round trip to a Mars moon.  The launch was rushed because of the different orbits of Mars and Earth.  It’s sort of like throwing a pass in the NFL.  You don’t throw the ball to the receiver.  You throw it where the receiver will be.  So they had to launch Phobos-Ground so it would arrive where the moon of Mars would be.  Not where it was.

Because of these great distances and the movement of the planets, navigating between these heavenly bodies is not easy.  Also, this was an unmanned mission.  Because as of now the technology does not exist to build a ship large enough with enough food and water and energy to sustain human life for a roundtrip to Mars.  Not to mention the affect of weightlessness, the lack of exercise, fresh air, sunshine, etc.  Or what would happen if an astronaut or a cosmonaut or other space traveler caught a cold or suffered an appendicitis.  An unmanned mission was difficult enough.  A manned mission is beyond the realm of possibility.  For now.

Space travel is costly, difficult and highly risky.  Just to reach Mars.  Let alone intergalactic travel.  The obstacles to overcome may be insurmountable.  Yet if those having the technology were to do so they no doubt would have the technology to end hunger, control the weather and eliminate war.  And have no conceivable reason for contacting a far distant planet.

Unless they’re just incredibly bored.  And have money to burn.  Or are like the Professor on the television show Gilligan’s Island.  Who could build a radio receiver out of coconuts but couldn’t figure out how to patch a hole in a boat.  Smart enough to do the complex.  But not smart enough to something simpler.  Which would negate the necessity of the more complex.

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