Russia’s stricken Mars probe ‘contacted’

Phobos Grunt

Phobos Grunt

MOSCOW, November 23 (RIA Novosti) – The European Space Agency (ESA) has said it established contact with Russia’s Mars mission probethat is stranded circling Earth.

“ESA’s tracking station at Perth, Australia, established contact with Russia’s Phobos-Grunt spacecraft,” the agency said on its website on Wednesday. “This was the first signal received on Earth since the Mars mission was launched on 8 November.”

“ESA teams are working closely with engineers in Russia to determine how best to maintain communication with the spacecraft,” it said.

The communication occurred at 20:25 GMT on Tuesday.

ESA spokesman Rene Pischel told RIA Novosti this was “only the beginning of a process.”

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos confirmed that ESA talked to the probe.

On Tuesday, ESA said it would use its stations in French Guiana, the Canary Islands and Spain to regain control of the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft.

The wayward craft, designed to collect soil samples from Mars’ moon Phobos, launched successfully but then its engines failed to put it on course for the Red Planet.