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China To Participate In Russian Flight To Phobos

Phobos (pictured) is a highly non-spherical moon, orbiting Mars at a distance of less than 6,000 kilometers (3728 miles) and traveling faster than the rotation of Mars itself.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Nov 22, 2006
China will participate in a Russian project to fly to a Martian moon, a deputy head of Russia's Federal Space Agency said Tuesday. "An agreement is being prepared whereby a Chinese micro-satellite, worth some $1 billion, will be installed on the Russian station Phobos-soil," Yury Nosenko told a press conference.

"While entering the orbit of Mars, the Chinese satellite will be detached from the Russian spacecraft and will become an artificial satellite of Mars," he said.

A project developer said in September that Russia will launch a spacecraft to Phobos, the larger of two Martian moons, in 2009, which will then return to Earth with a sample of its soil.

Dr. Efraim Akim, of the M.V. Keldysh Institute of Applied Mechanics, said the craft will be launched from a platform deployed in an intermediary near-Earth orbit.

He said there will be no need to use a heavy booster rocket, which are expensive to launch.

The launch window for the voyage to Phobos is October 2009, and the journey will take 10 to 11 months. The spacecraft will begin its return journey to Earth in 2011, which will take another 10 to 11 months.

Phobos is a highly non-spherical moon, orbiting Mars at a distance of less than 6,000 kilometers (3728 miles) and traveling faster than the rotation of Mars itself.

According to Russian Academy of Sciences member Mikhail Marov, Phobos became a satellite of Mars millions of years ago, so studying material from the asteroid will give scientists information as to the origins of the Solar System and of the Earth.

Neither NASA nor the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning flights to Phobos, Marov said. "This is a niche that foreign space agencies have left us, not only because it is an exceptionally difficult task, but also because we have already invested work in this area of planetary research."

The landing will be a complicated operation due to the moon's small size and high orbital speed.

The spacecraft will use new materials, allowing for a substantial reduction in weight compared to its predecessors, and high-precision Earth-based control systems will be employed for the project.

Russian Academy of Sciences President Yury Osipov called the project "a unique chance for Russia to return to planetary research."

The Russian Space Agency said in September that Russia and China might conclude a Moon exploration agreement by the end of the year.

China has already successfully launched into orbit two manned space vehicles. Its first manned flight three years ago made it the third country to launch a human being into space on its own, after Russia and the U.S.

Source: RIA Novosti

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Rosetta Healthy And On Target For February Mars Flyby
Paris, France (ESA) Nov 21, 2006
The Rosetta spacecraft and its payload are in excellent health and everything is set to prepare the Mars flyby on 25 February 2007. On 26 July the Rosetta spacecraft came out of the two-month Near Sun Hibernation Mode (NSHM). The spacecraft performance during that period was nominal. Subsequently it was reconfigured to Active Cruise Mode. Rosetta is back to two ground station passes per week, which are used for telemetry recovery and S/C maintenance operations.

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