Orbital tracking reports suggest Russia’s failed Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt, fell back to Earth on Sunday, to be destroyed over the Pacific.
Russian, US and European sources announced the demise of the craft within minutes of each other.
It brings to an end the sorry story of this mission, which promised to return rocky samples from Mars’ biggest moon.
Instead, after its launch in November, Phobos-Grunt could not get more than 345km from Earth before stalling.
Once it became clear that controllers could not establish contact with the probe and diagnose its faults, a fiery dive back to Earth was inevitable.
The spacecraft’s last orbit took it over Japan, and the Solomon Islands, and to the east of Australia and New Zealand. Conflicting reports then had the final re-entry point across a great swathe of the Southern Ocean. Certainly, it seems Phobos-Grunt was down and destroyed before it could have passed over South America.
This makes me so sad. So many dreams, countless hours of blood, sweat and tears, now lying at the bottom of the ocean instead of touching the moon of another world.
We know stuff on the sun is big, but how big? I find it easy to use Adobe Photoshop as my solar ruler. Make a circle the size of the sun, divide the diameter by 109 and you get a nice earth sized circle to measure with. This lovely spray of hydrogen plasma stretches out about 11 earth diameters along the limb. That’s close to 90,000 miles. Now that’s BIG.
This global view of Jupiter’s moon, Io, was obtained during the tenth orbit of Jupiter by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. Io, which is slightly larger than Earth’s Moon, is the most volcanically active body in the solar system.
An interesting galaxy has been circled in this Hubble Space Telescope image. The galaxy — one of a group of galaxies called Luminous Red Galaxies — has an unusually large mass, containing about ten times the mass of the Milky Way. However, it’s actually the blue horseshoe shape that circumscribes the red galaxy that is the real prize in this image.
This blue horseshoe is a distant galaxy that has been magnified and warped into a nearly complete ring by the strong gravitational pull of the massive foreground Luminous Red Galaxy. To see such a so-called Einstein Ring required the fortunate alignment of the foreground and background galaxies, making this object’s nickname “the Cosmic Horseshoe” particularly apt.
The Cosmic Horseshoe is one of the best examples of an Einstein Ring. It also gives us a tantalising view of the early Universe: the blue galaxy’s redshift is approximately 2.4. This means we see it as it was about 3 billion years after the Big Bang. The Universe is now 13.7 billion years old.
Astronomers first discovered the Cosmic Horseshoe in 2007 using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. But this Hubble image, taken with the Wide Field Camera 3, offers a much more detailed view of this fascinating object.
Eta Carinae is one of the most massive and brightest stars in the Milky Way. Compared to our own Sun, it is about 100 times as massive and a million times as bright. This famed variable hypergiant star (upper center) is surrounded by the Carina Nebula.
In this composite image spanning the visible and infrared parts of the spectrum, areas that appear blue are not obscured by dust, while areas that appear red are hidden behind dark clouds of dust in visible light.
A study combining X-ray and Infrared observations has revealed a new population of massive stars lurking in regions of the nebula that are highly obscured by dust. Adding these new massive stars to the known massive stars suggests that the Carina Nebula will produce twice as many supernova explosions as previously supposed.