13-ton satellite may hit Atlantic Ocean

2012-01-13 13:06

A failed Russian Mars probe weighing 13.5 tons is most likely to strike earth somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean near Argentina, officials at Russia’s national space agency Roscosmos have said.

The statement published on the agency website updated a Thursday prediction the Fobos-Grunt probe would reach the Earth’s surface in the Indian Ocean somewhere near the island nation Madagascar on Sunday.

The Russian probe has been in a decaying orbit since its interplanetary engines failed to ignite following a November 9 launch. An accurate estimate of precisely when and where the spaceship would hit earth is practically impossible, Roscosmos has said.

Vladimir Sychov, a researcher working for Russia’s Institute for Biomedical Problems, told the Interfax news agency most of the spaceship was likely to be burnt up re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, but that some 200kg of debris could possibly reach the earth’s surface.

Colonies of fruit flies and bacteria aboard the vessel are contained in hermetically-sealed titanium capsules, but are nonetheless unlikely to survive the fall to earth.

Should they survive to landing the flies and bacteria would not be dangerous to people, Sychov said.

The Phobos-Grunt vehicle also contains the radioactive element cobalt in some of its surveying equipment.

The amount of material is small and, should it reach Earth, is extremely unlikely to pose a threat to life on the ground, he said.

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.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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.


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.