Russian probe launch to Mars
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Russia launches Phobos-Grunt Mars probe

Russia has launched a probe to Mars , resuming the country's exploration of the solar system after funding woes and mission failures hindered progress over the last two decades.

The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft will reach Mars in late 2012, release a Chinese orbiter and attempt to collect samples from Phobos, the Red Planet's largest moon.

Vials of bacteria from Earth suited to extreme environments, plant seeds and tiny invertebrate animals known as water bears, will be released to see if they can survive in space.

If all goes according to plan, the probe will return to Earth with the samples in 2014.

  • 08 Nov 2011