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Fragments of Russia's Mars probe may fall on Earth on Jan. 15

(Xinhua)

16:40, January 07, 2012

MOSCOW, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Some 200 kilograms of the fragments of Russia's failed Mars probe Phobos-Grunt may fall onto the Earth during Jan. 10-20, most probably on Jan. 15, Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said on Friday.

"The surface of the earth could be reached by about 20-30 hard-melting fragments of the spacecraft, which weigh no more than 200 kilograms," the Roscosmos said in a statement posed on its website.

Preliminary information showed that other fragments of the interplanetary spacecraft would burn down in the dense layer of the atmosphere at an altitude of approximately 100 km, the agency said.

With regards to the radioactive source Cobalt-57 in one of the probe's research devices, namely the Mossbauer spectrometer, Roscosmos said the source weighs no more than 10 micrograms and has a short half-life decay period.

"It will cause no danger of radioactive contamination," the Roscosmos said.

Roscosmos confirmed in November that the Phobos-Grunt probe carrying China's Yinghuo-1 satellite, which was launched on Nov. 9, failed to reach the intended orbit, as the vehicle has not used its own booster to reach the designated flying orbit as scheduled.

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