Maybe the Russians should just cut their losses and focus on another planet or the Moon – ESA Abandons Effort To Contact Russia’s Stranded Mars Probe:
NASA had also lent its tracking assets to the Phobos-Grunt salvage effort but was unable to pick up any signals from the spacecraft, which was launched Nov. 8 on a mission intended to land on the martian moon Phobos and return samples to Earth. The spacecraft also carries a small Chinese satellite intended for Mars orbit.
“The mission is no longer feasible,” said Manfred Warhaut, head of operations at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. In a conference call with journalists, Warhaut and ESOC operations engineer Wolfgang Hell, who had been in regular contact with Lavochkin, said Russia is unlikely to give up on Phobos-Grunt.
“We are not in a position to continue, but they definitely will not give up,” Warhaut said. “They will continue to try to send thruster commands” to get Phobos-Grunt’s engines to function.
It seems the more ambitious their Mars missions, the more quickly they fail. Which is too bad – the more Mars missions, the better, but also because the Phobos sample return on this mission would have been really interesting.