Sunday, January 15, 2012

Russian military says spacecraft debris falls into the Pacific ocean

Pieces of a failed Russian Mars probe plummeted into the Pacific Ocean far off the Chilean coast on Sunday, Russian news agencies cited a military official as saying.

Debris from the Phobos-Grunt craft fell into the sea some 1,250 km (775 miles) west of the coastal island of Wellington, state-run RIA and Itar-Tass cited Aerospace Defence Forces spokesman Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin as saying.

The spacecraft never made it out of Earth's orbit after its November launch on a rare interplanetary mission for Russia's struggling space program.

It was not immediately clear whether all the parts of the craft that did not burn up in the atmosphere had fallen in the same area.

Russia's space agency Roskosmos had said debris from its doomed 14-ton craft, which included 11 tons of toxic rocket fuel, might fall in the Atlantic Ocean about midway between Brazil and West Africa.

Due to constant changes in the upper atmosphere, which is strongly influenced by solar activity, the exact time and place of the probe's return had been unknown.

Experts said the falling space junk posed little risk, with the probe's aluminium fuel tank expected to burn up high in the atmosphere. Read More