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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Life After Mars '96
20 November 1996 7:00 pm
Three days after their Mars '96 mission plunged into the Pacific Ocean, Russian space scientists say they have a good idea what probably went wrong. And they will make a bid to try for the Red Planet again in 2001.
The Russian Academy of Sciences has formed a panel to study the failure; its preliminary report is due next week. In the meantime, scientists at Moscow's Space Science Institute (IKI), which planned the mission, have been analyzing the launch sequence themselves. The Proton rocket successfully got the spacecraft into Earth's orbit, but the spacecraft's fourth stage ignited prematurely. Russian scientists are skeptical, however, that the fourth stage itself is to blame. Instead, an emerging consensus is that the spacecraft's electronics failed, sending a faulty signal to the fourth stage. "The control system is usually not very reliable," says IKI astronomer Alexander Zakharov, who cites problems with a similar system on a previous mission.
Russian space officials have nixed a second try for Mars in 1998, the next launch window. And Russian Space Agency (RSA) officials have told IKI that, because of budget cuts, it can propose only one planetary mission in the foreseeable future. IKI officials have whittled it down to two potential missions: A joint U.S.-Russian mission to Mars in 2001 or a Russian mission to the Martian moon Phobos in 2003. "We are likely to go to Mars in 2001," says Zakharov. IKI says it intends to prepare a proposal from the Russian side in time for a meeting of the joint working group on solar system exploration next month in Florida, where NASA and RSA will discuss the mission.