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Russia 'makes first contact' with stranded Mars probe

Russia's Phobos-Grunt. A file photo.

MOSCOW (AFP): Russia announced its scientists had for the first time made contact with its stranded Mars probe Phobos-Grunt, a day after the European Space Agency said it had received a signal.

"A signal from the probe has been received and some telemetry data. At the moment our specialists are working on this information," the Interfax news agency quoted Russian space agency spokesman Alexei Kuznetsov as saying.

Interfax said the signal was received at a Russian station at its Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Thursday afternoon.

The European Space Agency said its ground station in Perth, Australia made contact with the probe on Tuesday, the first sign of life from Phobos-Grunt since it got stuck in Earth orbit after launch on November 9.

Russian officials had cautioned earlier this week that the chances were very small of saving the mission, which would require reprogramming the probe to send it off on its trajectory to Mars before the window for its journey closes.

The probe had the unprecedented mission to land on the Martian moon Phobos and bring a sample of its rock back to Earth, as well as launch a Chinese satellite into Martian orbit.


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