Russian Mars probe on its way down
Moscow - A failed Russian Mars probe weighing 13.5 tons is most likely to strike earth somewhere in the Indian Ocean near Africa, officials at Russia's national space agency said on Thursday.
The Phobos-Grunt probe will probably reach the earth's surface sometime on Sunday or Monday in the Indian Ocean between the mainland of the African continent and the island nation Madagascar, a Roscosmos statement said.
The current official predicted arrival time of the probe was 12:12 GMT on Sunday, but that estimate would probably be affected by sun activity and air conditions, the statement said.
The Russian probe has been in a decaying orbit since its interplanetary engines failed to ignite following a November 9 launch.
Roscosmos officials have predicted the probe will break up into as many as thirty major pieces as it passes through the atmosphere downward. Smaller debris is expected to burn up in re-entry.
An earlier Roscosmos estimate predicted the probe would plunge into the Indian Ocean near the Indonesian capital Jakarta at 09:18 GMT on Sunday.