Update on Phobos-Grunt

Phobos-Grunt is a Russian spacecraft that was headed for Mars and got stuck in low Earth orbit, low enough that it should reenter between January 13th and 18th. Via spaceweather.com, a photo by astrophotographer Thierry Legault.

He also has a video here that indicates that the spacecraft isn’t tumbling, it’s just facing the wrong way for the solar panels to charge up. The batteries would be drained by now. Earlier, Roscosmos stated that the spacecraft had trouble finding the right stars for orientation and so did not execute the engine burn at the right time. A Perth, Australia tracking station had a couple of successful contacts with Phobos-Grunt, but apparently not enough for the spacecraft to right itself or for the ground controllers to understand what went wrong.