MOSCOW, January 17 (Itar-Tass) —— A U.S. radar in the Pacific Ocean could unintentionally trigger the failure of the Russian Phobos-Ground Mars probe the debris of which fell on the Earth the other day, the Kommersant daily said on Tuesday quoting an unnamed source in the Russian space industry.
Earlier Russian Space Agency chief Vladimir Popovkin suggested the unexplained malfunction of Phobos-Ground which became stranded in the Earth orbit was the result of an impact from a foreign technical facility.
"I wouldn't like to accuse anyone, but today there exist powerful means allowing to influence spacecraft, and their use can't be excluded," he said in an interview.
The source of the Kommersant said the impact could have come from the radar on the Marshal Islands that monitored the trajectory of an asteroid at the moment of the Phobos-Ground launch.
The megawatt-strong impulse could have triggered a malfunction of the onboard electronic system. “The probe could no longer fulfill the command and start the engine,” the source said stressing it was a force majeure rather than sabotage.
A government commission has to clarify the causes of the malfunction. Initially it was believed the onboard computer failed, but later the cause was dropped as the computer successfully opened the solar batteries. Now experts consider the possibility of a short circuit. “Besides, there are other options and one of them is linked to outside impact on the probe,” the source said.
Kommersant said the government commission officially refused to comment the claim.