Strange Comet: Want to Watch a Failed Russian Probe Burn?

Posted by Justin on January 13th, 2012
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If you listened to the most recent podcast, Andrew discussed the Phobos Grunt. It was supposed to be a probe that landed on the Martian moon of Phobos and sent us back soil samples, due to arrive in 2014. Instead, it’s going to be a REALLY expensive firework this Sunday as it burns up upon reentry after failing to break the Earth’s orbit.

C’mon, show em what your worth.

As it sinks into the denser layers of Earth’s atmosphere, the probe will heat up and begin to glow brightly, forming a long plasma tail and resembling “a surreal-looking comet,” Molczan said.

“Eventually, the combination of extreme heat and rapid deceleration will cause it to fragment into many pieces that will spread out along the path of descent,” he said.

“The debris trail will move rapidly across the sky, visible for perhaps one to two minutes, assuming [a viewer has a] reasonably unobstructed view of the sky.”

With a keen eye, you can even see it now circling Earth, ready for the big moment. Keep your peepers trained for a fast-moving, star-like object with a bright orange hue.

[Nat Geo]

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_T6Y5LQXPYKPIMUQDQC3QTSA4OM Dave

    I saw this one today, i thought it was a really fast airplane, i guess it was that thing, cus it was going super fast, but not breaking the sound barrier

  • http://ebonnebula.deviantart.com/ EbonNebula

    …and these are the people who we have to bum a ride off of.