Russia: US May Have Killed Probe

Expert calls suggestion that US radar station interfered 'contrived'

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 17, 2012 11:31 AM CST

(Newser) – Russia's failed Mars moon probe may be sleeping with the fishes, but the questions about what went wrong with the Phobos-Grunt have yet to be put to rest. The newest theory: the US did it, inadvertently, of course. Russia is reviewing whether emissions from a US radar station may have affected the probe, which never made it past Earth's orbit. "The results of the experiment will allow us to prove or dismiss the possibility of the radar's impact," explains the head of the commission looking into the failure. It isn't the first time Russia has suggested the US might be to blame.

A Russian deputy PM agreed that foreign interference was possible, but he also noted that the probe itself could have been the problem, adding that "practically all disruptions are due to flaws in the technologies manufactured 12 to 13 years ago." Other space experts are even more doubtful: A specialist at the institute that developed the Phobos-Grunt called the theory "contrived"; he doubts the US possesses a radar powerful enough to mess with a spacecraft at an altitude of around 124 miles, reports the AP.

In this Nov.2, 2011 photo distributed by Russian Roscosmos space agency on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011, the unmanned Phobos-Grunt probe is see.   (AP photo/ Russian Roscosmoc space agency, HO)
In this Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 file photo, the Zenit-2SB rocket with Phobos-Grunt (Phobos-Ground probeFILE ) blasts off from its launch pad at the Cosmodrome Baikonur, Kazakhstan.   (AP Photo, File)
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