Russian Newspaper: U.S. Radar May Have Damaged Mars Probe
A powerful electromagnetic emission from a U.S. radar in the Pacific could have caused the malfunctioning of the Russian Phobos-Grunt probe, the Kommersant daily said on Tuesday.
A Russian government investigation commission is considering several causes of the failure, including a short circuit or “external impact,” the paper said citing an unnamed source in the Russian space industry.
“Experts do not dismiss the possibility that the probe could have accidentally come under the impact of emissions [from a U.S. radar stationed on the Marshall Islands], whose megawatt impulse triggered the malfunctioning of on-board electronics,” the source said.
The source did not specify the type of the radar, but said it was monitoring the trajectory of an asteroid at the time of the Phobos-Grunt launch.
The source stressed that it was more likely an accident rather than a determined act of sabotage.
The government commission officials have refused to comment on the claim, Kommersant said.
The commission is expected to inform the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos Vladimir Popovkin of the preliminary results of the investigation on January 20.