NASA has a healthy spacecraft on its way to Mars.
Engineers have received data from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory showing that all systems are operating normally. The approximately eight-month journey to Mars is underway.
MSL, aka Curiosity, was launched from Cape Canaveral on Saturday en route to an Aug. 6 landing on the Red Planet.
Meanwhile, things continue to look grim for Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission, which has been stuck in low Earth orbit for three weeks.
Anatoly Zak’s Nov. 29 update on RussianSpaceWeb.com is not encouraging:
During the night from November 28 to November 29, the ground station in Perth had five opportunities to contact Phobos-Grunt from 18:21 to 03:47 GMT (22:21 – 07:47 Moscow Time) However all attempts to command Phobos-Grunt to fire its engines for reaching higher orbit were unsuccessful, Russian news agencies reported, as industry sources promised to continue their efforts to communicate with the spacecraft.
ESA reported that its ground station in Maspalomas, Canary Island, had been in process of upgrades to add a “feedhorn” antenna similar to the one, which enabled the facility in Perth to communicate with Phobos-Grunt. In the meantime, ESA teams at ESOC center received a request from the Phobos-Grunt team to repeat attempts of uploading commands to the spacecraft to boost its orbit.
Roscosmos has, for whatever reason, has largely maintained silence on the mission, with few official updates on its website. ESA, on the other hand, has been keeping the world fully appraised on its communications efforts.