Mon, Jun 19, 2006
Red Planet Is The Place To Be
Contrary to H.G. Wells'
best predictions, it is Mars that is about to be invaded... by a
duo of Russian and European space probes, set to join NASA's Mars
Reconnaisance Orbiter, Odyssey and Global Surveyor spacecraft in
the next several years.
Agence-France Presse reports Russia's space program, Roskosmos,
plans to launch its Phobos-Grunt exploration capsule in 2009, on a
three-year trip to analyse the surface of the red planet, and
collect test samples from one of the red planet's moons.
Phobos will then bring those samples back home to Earth... so
they can be further dissected, hopefully yielding information
scientists and cosmonauts can use in their quest to send a manned
flight to Mars by 2030.
It's likely that as Phobos wends its way back to Earth, the
Russian probe will cross paths with yet another Martian explorer --
the ESA's $900 million ExoMars probe, set to launch in 2011.
ExoMars is the first of the ESA's "Aurora Flagship" missions,
and includes a martian rover similar to NASA's Spirit and
Oppportunity rovers that are still collecting data from Mars.
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