Mars Curiosity Rover's Data Unintelligible

Nov 25, 2011, 09:43 by R.E. Christian

Data received from a Russian Mars probe at the European Space Agency in Australia is impossible to interpret, a space industry source told RIA Novosti Thursday.

"It was impossible to get anything out of the telemetry received this morning -- there are encoding/decoding problems," the source told the Russian news agency.

The source said although receiving data from the Phobos-Grunt probe shows the unit is "alive" and powered, it is hard to say anything about the status of the onboard control system, RIA Novosti reported.

Telemetric data was also received at a Russian space station in Baikonur, but it was not clear whether the signal was "decipherable."

The Phobos-Grunt was launched Nov. 9 and is expected to fall to Earth sometime in March. The craft was designed to collect rock and soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos. It is currently on a support orbit.

Experts say the Mars mission has failed, as the last "window of opportunity" for sending the probe to Mars closed Monday. However, data being received from the probe can be used to identify the cause of the failure and make adjustments for future missions.

Source: UPI