Phobos-Grunt mission to Mars set to launch on November 9

Phobos. Credit: NASA/JPL

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.

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