|Russian spacecraft Phobos-Grunt|
Tons of unspent rocket fuel and an uncontrolled re-entry could create a very dangerous combination depending on where the craft comes down and the state of the fuel.
If the fuel does not freeze, but remains liquid, it should burn up harmlessly before it reaches the ground. But if the toxic mixture freezes, it could survive re-entry and strike the Earth intact. According to James Oberg, formally with NASA and now a space consultant,
“About seven tons (6.4 tonnes) of nitrogen tetroxide and hydrazine, which could freeze before ultimately entering, will make it the most toxic falling satellite ever”Signs of trouble began when Russian scientists lost contact with the probe and requested amateur astronomers worldwide to report any sightings. The craft was spotted by South American astronomers trapped in a low orbit, trailed by its' failed booster engines.
this report, they have so far been unable to communicate with the craft and hope is fading that a solution will be found before the batteries fail.
|Mars Moon Phobos|
The ship was headed for Mars moon Phobos on an ambitious mission to return to Earth next year with about seven ounces of soil samples from the Martian moon. Instead, this is the just latest and most dangerous, in a very long string of failed missions to Mars by the Russian Federal Space Agency.
Article first published as Crippled Russian Spacecraft Carries Toxic Payload on Technorati.
phobos ground probe: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cebit_2011-fobos-grunt_together_with_upper_stage.jpg