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Salvaging Science from Stricken Mars Moon Probe: A Scientist's View

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Russian engineers are scrambling to save the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft amid ever-bleaker signs the mission may be lost. The probe was launched uneventfully Nov. 8, but soon afterward its thruster failed to fire to send it on a course toward Mars, leaving the spacecraft stranded in Earth orbit.

Phobos-Grunt was designed for an ambitious mission to retrieve samples from Mars' moon Phobos, and return them to Earth, though it was also carrying a small payload from the Planetary Society, a nonprofit space advocacy group, to test the effects of microgravity on tiny organisms.

Here David Warmflash, the science lead for the U.S. team of the payload, called the Phobos Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment, shares his thoughts on how the mission might be saved and what it feels like to have a spacecraft on the edge.
 
 

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