[FPSPACE] condolences on Phobos-Grunt

Constantine A Domashnev cdomashnev at acm.org
Fri Dec 2 16:51:30 EST 2011

" ESA apparently abandoning its effort to contact Phobos-Grunt. "

By Mike Wall, SPACE.com Wed, 11/30/11 at 3:33 PM EST Skywatcher snaps photos 
of stranded Russian Mars probe


The solar panel's side appears to be lit, which means the probe is not 
perpendicular to the sun. Which might (or may not) be a factor in the ESA 

PS. I think whether or not the probe has or had design flaws cannot be 
really established without knowing what went wrong and what was likelihood 
of that event and how costly it would be to hedge/defend against it. If the 
probe has hit an iceberg and immediately sunk, the proximity of the low-gain 
antennas to the external tank would not have mattered in any event; if the 
mission went on as planned, the tank would be jettisoned and the proximity 
would not matter either.

A hypothetical faulty implementation would not be a design flaw either.

The question whether the lack of a redundant/backup communication option 
technically qualifies as a design flaw or not is not that clear: I think 
design flaw is a physical problem.

Disclaimer: I may be wrong and that's just my personal opinion(s).

PPS. I believe that disconnect from reality in reporting oftentimes comes 
from "wishful thinking", and not necessarily because certain point of view 
is official. These two phenomena may be quite correlated, however they are 
not the same. 

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