Launch Date November 8, 2011 | 20:16 UTC
Launch Site Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Russia
Destination Martian Moon Phobos
Type Lander/Sample Return
Status Unsuccessful
Nation Russian
Alternate Names Fobos-Grunt


Study, collect and return samples from the Martian moon Phobos. The spacecraft also carried Chinia’s Yinghuo-1, that nation’s first Mars orbiter.


None. A malfunction stranded the spacecraft in Earth orbit. Both the Russian and Chinese spacecraft burned up in Earth’s atmosphere.

In Depth

Russia's Phobos-Grunt mission would have studies Mars’ moon, Phobos, as well as return soil samples to Earth in order to determine the origin and evolution of this moon. In addition to its own mission, Phobos-Grunt also carried China's first interplanetary mission to Mars called Yinghuo-1. Phobos-Grunt was be Russia's first interplanetary mission since the unsuccessful Mars 96 mission.

After an 11-month voyage to Mars, Phobos-Grunt was to begin probing Mars' magnetosphere and atmosphere. At this time, Phobos-Grunt would have released China's Yinghuo-1 orbiter into a near-equatorial, elliptical orbit.

Afterwards, Phobos-Grunt was to release a lander on Phobos to collect 200 grams of rock and dust, as well as make other experiments to study Phobos and its environment. The samples would then have been launched back to Earth in a sample return capsule for study.

The spacecraft did not perform its scheduled burn to begin its trajectory to Mars and both spacecraft were stranded in Earth orbit after communications failed.

Key Dates

Nov. 8, 2011 | 20:16 UTC: Launch

Jan. 15, 2013: Earth Re-entry


Launch Vehicle: Zenit

Spacecraft Mass: 1,609 pounds (730.0 kilograms)

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. FOGS Gamma Spectrometer
  2. MAL-1 Mass Spectrometer
  3. Termofob Thermodetector
  4. Seismo-1 Seismometer
  5. Meteor-F cosmic dust detector

Sampling Unit:

  1. robotic arm
  2. inlet capsule
  3. TV cameras for visual control

Additional Resources

National Space Science Data Center Master Catalog: Phobos-Grunt

Selected References

Siddiqi, Asif A. Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, NASA, 2002.

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