Russia Eyes Mars 2005 Probehttp://www.spacer.com/images/mars-atmosphere-bg.jpg [not image]
Moscow (AFP) January 28, 2000 - Russia is planning to send a space probe towards Mars and its moon Phobos in 2005, to examine the surface of the red planet, if the money can be found, scientists here said Thursday.
"Through this launch we hope to gather information which may help us to understand why there is no life on Mars," said Leonid Ksanfomality, of Russia's Academy of Sciences' space studies institute during a discussion here on Russian space projects for the 21st century.
The probe will be launched as long as the project receives the normal funding, said fellow institute official Alexander Zakharov, without specifying the projected cost. "Last year we didn't receive a single penny from the State for this project," he said. "We would be happy if foreign aerospace agencies participate," he added.
At the moment the project exists only on paper.
Russia sent two probes into orbit around Mars and Phobos in the late 1980s. However technical errors meant contact was lost with Phobos-1 in September 1988 and with Phobos-2 six months later.
The last Russian attempt to send a probe to Mars failed in 1996, plunging into the Pacific Ocean before it left the earth's orbit. Russia's cash-strapped space programme was forced to abandon the Mir space station last year because it could not cover its operating costs and at the same time participate in the multi-nation International Space Station project.