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Missions to Mars: Phobos

Artiestenimpressie van het Phobos ruimtetuig.

 

Artist impression of the Phobos spacecraft.
(Credits NASA, JPL.)


The Phobos-1-mission was launched on the 7th July 1988 from Baikonour. The primary goal of the mission, like her sister satellite Phobos 2, was to explore the larger of the 2 moons of Mars – Phobos.

As well as instruments to study this Martian satellite, Phobos also carried instruments to study the Sun, Mars, the interplanetary medium and gamma ray bursts.

The Phobos-1 satellite got lost on its way to Mars due to an erroneous execution of a command send from Earth. On 2nd Sept 1988 communication with the spaceship was cut off.

Source: NASA HEASARC

Instruments

Originally the two Phobos mission were to carry exactly the same instrument payload. Mass constaints meant that in reality some instruments were only on one of the probes. Phobos 1 carried in total 25 instruments.

The Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) played an essential role in the interpretation of data gathered by one of these instruments. The result was the discovery of formaldehyde in the atmosphere of Mars.

pdf More about the discovery of formaldehyde in the 1990's (.pdf)

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