Radiation blamed for space probe crash

2012-01-31 16:38
Moscow - The head of Russia's space agency said on Tuesday that cosmic radiation was the most likely cause of the failure of a Mars moon probe that crashed to Earth this month, and suggested that a low-quality imported component may have been vulnerable to the radiation.

The unmanned probe was to have gone to the Mars moon of Phobos, taken soil samples and brought them back. But it became stuck in Earth orbit soon after its launch on November 9.

It fell out of orbit on January 15, reportedly off the coast of Chile, but no fragments have been found.

The failure was a severe embarrassment to Russia, and space agency head Vladimir Popovkin initially suggested it could have been due to foreign sabotage.

But Russian news agencies on Tuesday quoted him as saying an investigation showed the probable cause was "localised influence of heavily radiated space particles".

Inadequate quality

Popovkin, speaking in the city of Voronezh where the report was presented to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, said two units of the Phobos-Ground probe's onboard computer system went into an energy-saving "restart" mode, apparently due to the radiation, while the craft was in its second orbital circuit.

It was not immediately clear why the units could not be brought out of that mode.

Popovkin was quoted as saying that some microchips used on the craft were imported and possibly of inadequate quality to resist radiation. He did not specify where the chips were manufactured.

Popovkin also said the craft's builder, Moscow-based NPO Lavochkin, should have taken into account the possibility of radiation interfering with the operation and said Lavochkin officials would face punishment for the oversight.

Russia's space programme has suffered a series of notable failures in recent months, including the August crash of an unmanned ship that was to send supplies to the International Space Station.

That crash forced the postponement of a manned launch to the ISS because the booster rocket that failed in the crash was similar to the ones used in manned missions.

On Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported that a manned launch to the ISS that had been scheduled for March 30 will be postponed for about 45 days because tests of the capsule showed flaws in its hermetic seals.
Read more on:    space

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.