January 17, 2012 - 16:58 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The theory that Russia’s Mars mission failed due to a U.S. radar is extremely “exotic,” Russian scientists suppose.
Doomed Russian Phobos-Grunt Mars probe that's been stuck in Earth orbit for two months crashed down in the Pacific Ocean late Sunday. The $165-million spacecraft, designed to retrieve soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos, was meant to be Russia's first successful interplanetary mission in over two decades.
NASA says Russia has failed in all 17 of its attempts to study the Red Planet close-up since 1960. The most recent failure before last month occurred in 1996, when Russia lost its Mars-96 orbiter during launch.
The crash could have been caused by a powerful electromagnetic emission from a U.S. radar in the Pacific Ocean, the Kommersant daily reported earlier on Tuesday citing an unnamed source in the Russian space industry. The source stressed that it was more likely an accident rather than an act of sabotage.
“Consider the power of the impact. I don’t think the Americans have radars capable of ensuring such power at such an altitude [about 200 kilometers],” RIA Novosti quoted Alexander Zakharov of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Space Studies, where the Phobos equipment and research program were developed, as saying.
He suggested the theory was just a blind to cover up some people’s mistakes.
“I simply think that is disingenuous. It is convenient to find the cause of the failure on the outside,” he said, adding that “external impact hypotheses” were “far-fetched.”
“The spacecraft itself should be examined first. There are problems there,” he said.
His view was echoed by Viktor Savorsky, a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Radio Technology and Electronics. “The electronic equipment [of spacecraft] is usually protected very well against radiation and sheltered against external fields,” he said.