The long-anticipated Russian mission to Mars’ moon Phobos, called Phobos-Grunt, is now set to launch on November 9 after years of delays. A Zenit-2SB rocket will launch from the spaceport in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The probe may be unmanned, but it is not uninhabited; it will carry bacteria, fungi, maxillopoda, fish and chironomids, as well as seeds, as a test to see if they can survive the long trip to Mars and back to Earth. It will also help solve problems related to planetary quarantine on future manned missions.
A lander probe will collect samples from Phobos itself and bring them back to Earth as well, while a small station will remain on the moon to do further studies.
This article was first published on Examiner.com.