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Russian Mars probe heads off course minutes after launch

The Russian Space Agency are facing worldwide embarrassment as they have already ran into problems only minutes after launching their space probe which was sent to collect rock and dust samples from a Martian moon.

The probe was sent on a 33 month mission and according to reports is already stuck in an Earth orbit leaving engineers with only three days to fix the problem before the batteries run out. This space project has been Russia's most high profile space voyage in years.

The probe was designed to collect dust to help provide insights into the origin of the 27km wide moon which scientists are claiming may be a captured asteroid. It steered off course after it launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Zenit 2SB rocket. The Russian's are claiming that the engine system has not worked properly, although sources are claiming that it may still be possible to put the probe back on track.

The BBC News site add: “The French (Cnes) and German (DLR) space agencies have provided instrumentation for Phobos-Grunt. The European Space Agency, in addition to its survey information from MEx, will be providing ground support.

US participation comes in the form of the space advocacy group, The Planetary Society.

It is sending its Living Interplanetar Flight Experiment (LIFE) on Phobos-Grunt.

This package of hardy micro-organisms will make the journeys out and back inside a separate compartment in the return capsule.

It will test theories on how living organisms could spread through the Solar System by simulating aspects of the long-duration voyage that microbes could make in a meteoroid that has been blasted off one planetary body and landed on another.

The microscopic participants in LIFE include the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans, known for its ability to withstand high doses of radiation, and the eight-legged tardigrade (or “water bear”), a microscopic invertebrate that has already demonstrated its ability to survive short exposure to the space environment.”

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