The Merlin

January 17, 2012

Phobos-Grunt: one look and gone!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Matt @ 10:40 pm

Well, on Saturday we trooped out to see if we could see the errant spacecraft, Phobos-Grunt, on one of its final orbits. I was pretty sure we’d have only a few remaining chances–the ground track prediction from Heavens Above was changing daily. I dragged the family out and looked to the south. Despite the light pollution, Jupiter was high in the sky, with Venus lower to the West.

And saw nothing.

Actually, that’s not true, we did see a high satellite moving south. Annabelle noticed the Seven Sisters, and Fiona caught a glimpse of Cassiopeia (the big “W”).

But we saw no sign of the doomed Russian Mars probe. When I looked up the sighting opportunities for later–I recalled that the 17th would be a good time–I saw that there were NO MORE flyovers to be seen.

And indeed, after about 10 am on Sunday the 15th, Phobos-Grunt fell to earth, or rather to sea. On Phil Plait’s blog, Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society has a video chat explaining what is known about the crash into the Southern Pacific Ocean.

Too bad–we were rooting for at least a piece of it to land in our back yard. Ah well, there will be plenty more pieces of space junk. Maybe we’ll get lucky next time.

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