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Russia's Mars probe crashes into Pacific

(Xinhua)

09:04, January 16, 2012

MOSCOW - Russia's failed Mars probe Phobos-Grunt has fallen into the Pacific Ocean, local media reported on Sunday.

The crash site of the spacecraft debris was 1,250 kilometers west of the Wellington Island of Chile, said Russian Aerospace Defense Forces spokesman Col. Alexei Zolotukhin.

He told Itar-Tass news agency that Russia's space control network was monitoring the process of the falling which happened at 9:45 pm Moscow time (1745 GMT).

Earlier, experts said the 14-ton spacecraft carrying 11 tons of toxic rocket fuel might land somewhere in the southern Atlantic.

Most of the debris was expected to burn up in the atmosphere, but 20 to 30 chunks of charred debris, weighing about 200 kg, could make it to the surface, while the toxic fuel would burn in the atmosphere at a height of about 100 km, said Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos earlier in a projection for the crash.

Phobos-Grunt, Russia's most ambitious planetary mission in decades, was launched on Nov 9 with the aim of exploring one of Mar's two moons, but it became stuck in Earth orbit due to a propulsion failure and radio contact was lost.

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