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12/08/11 – Ephemeris – RIP Phobos-Grunt

December 8, 2011 Comments off

Thursday, December 8th.  The sun will rise at 8:06.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 5:02.   The moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:14 tomorrow morning.

November was the month to send spacecraft to Mars for its close approach in 2012.  On November 8th the Russian’s launched Phobos-Grunt a mission to Mars’ moon Phobos to land and return a soil sample.  On the way it was to release a Chinese satellite to orbit Mars. Making the round trip was a tiny capsule from the Planetary Society containing freeze-dried microbes to see if they could survive the long trip in interplanetary space.  The rocket performed flawlessly, but the Phobos-Grunt package did not ignite its engine to escape earth and head out to Mars.  Subsequent attempts by the Russians and Europeans have failed to correct the situation.  On the 26th NASA’s Curiosity was launched and is now heading to Mars to land August 5th next year.

* Times, as always are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.