Russian scientists are due to carry out tests of an unmanned lander which will be employed in their 2011 mission to Phobos, one of the moons of Mars.
RIA Novosti, a news agency based in Russia, has reported that the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft will be launched to reach the Phobos’ surface and then it will fly back to the earth with soil samples. It also stated that this mission is likely to commence in November 2011 and will last for 330 days.
A statement released by Russia’s Central Aerodynamic Institute said that the goal of the test is to confine the unmanned lander’s estimated impact area when it comes back to the earth. It also said that since the lander does not feature any signaling device, restricting its predefined impact location will make it easier to locate.
This project was started in 1999 and in June 2006 NPO Lavochkin, a Russian aerospace company announced that it had started developing and examining the improved version of the on-board device of the spacecraft.