Was Russia’s Lost Probe Looking For Martians?

On 8th November 2011, the Russian Federal Space Agency launched Fobos-Grunt on a 155 million kilometre round-trip to Mars’ principal moon, Phobos It was Russia’s first foray to the Red Planet since 1996

Ostensibly it looked like a scientific mission to collect soil samples However, there are those who believe Russia’s probe was actually engaged in a mission to seek out alien life… and wipe it from the face of Phobos What happened to Fobos-Grunt? And was its mission really benign? Planning for Fobos-Grunt began in 1999 It was meant to be the first probe to return to Earth with extra-terrestrial macroscopic soil samples since 1976 While the instruments were brand new, they were based on designs from the successful Soviet era Luna program

Two years later than expected, on 8th November 2011, Fobos-Grunt launched from Baikonur with a Chinese Mars orbiter on board However that was not all Fobos-Grunt was carrying The Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment, or LIFE, was also on board, carrying a selection of bacteria and other simple-celled organisms LIFE was designed to test the theory that life was brought to Earth via bacteria clinging to asteroids Yet according to Youtube conspiracy theorist Undercover Alien, this small, innocuous experiment was carrying not just anodyne bacteria, but a virulent form of anthrax and a species of yeast that is “associated with cancer, AIDS and Crohn's Disease”

Which begs the question, why, if investigating their survival in space, would Fobos-Grunt carry the most lethal microbes on the planet? Undercover Alien proposed two answers Either the probe was meant to cause a massive disaster on Earth upon re-entry Or, far from being a scientific vessel, Fobos-Grunt was actually a weapon to be used against aliens who have hollowed Phobos to create a space station Undercover Alien claims Russia has waged war against these creatures for forty years According to him, this explains the low success rate of Russian Mars missions, a phenomenon dubbed the Mars Curse

If this is true, the discovery of extraterrestrial life could be the greatest scientific achievement in history However soon after launch, Fobos-Grunt’s propulsion systems failed It spent two months in a low Earth orbit before crashing into the Pacific Ocean Almost immediately, prominent figures in Russian politics, media and science claimed Fobos-Grunt’s failure was not an accident According to retired Russian general Nikolay Rodionov, Fobos-Grunt was brought down by radar interference from America’s High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP

Merely two days after Fobos-Grunt re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean, Russian newspaper Kommersant quoted an unnamed source who said that tests were being conducted to determine whether US radar beams could have caused a failure in Fobos-Grunt’s power system Rodionov and news agency Russia Today did not specify whether America had sabotaged Fobos-Grunt deliberately However, according to conspiracy theorist Scott C

Waring, the US makes a habit of this practice Waring claims that, in ,2016 Europe’s Schiaparelli Lander was also shot down by the United States, as part of a policy that stretches back to 1989 and the failure of the Soviet Phobos 2 lander As fanciful as this sounds, even Vladimir Popovkin, head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, has voiced concerns over sabotage by the United States

According to Scott Waring, America is committing this interplanetary sabotage to prevent other countries being the first to establish contact with alien life This explains why the US military removed links to Fobos-Grunt’s tracking data from the US

Strategic Command website, four days after its re-entry Since 2010 Roscosmos has lost, or failed, two Progress resupply spacecrafts, six Proton launches, two Soyuz-2 rockets and three Soyuz-U launch vehicles In the same time frame, NASA has lost or failed only three vehicles However this record is not as impressive as it appears Though NASA has had more successful launches than Roscosmos, the overall success rate of all missions to the red planet is 47%

There is little to no direct evidence of NASA, the US military or anyone else sabotaging the failed flights HAARP has been the centre of many conspiracy theories Accusations include weather manipulation by Barack Obama, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ claim it triggered the 2010 Haitian earthquake

However, HAARP was shut down in 2014 and handed over to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Furthermore, Boris Smeds, a former radio engineer at the European Space Agency, says the deep space communication devices that Fobos-Grunt used operated on a different frequency to ground-based space-observation radars In theory, a badly fitted receiver could be damaged by a radar beam But Smeds says it is unclear how that alone would knock out the power system of the spacecraft Alexander Zakharov, from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute, echoes this conclusion

He describes General Rodionov’s theory as “far-fetched” Instead, Zakharov blames the craft itself The official report into the failure, led by the former head of the Russian Space Agency Yuri Koptev, says a faulty computer reboot soon after launch put the craft into safe mode In such a state, the rockets required to boost Fobos-Grunt out of orbit could not be engaged As former Planetary Society executive director Louis Friedman put it, ""Cheap parts, design shortcomings, and lack of pre-flight testing ensured that the spacecraft would never fulfill its goals

"" According to US Strategic Command, the tracking data for Fobos-Grunt was not deleted from their website, but misfiled due to human error As soon as this was noticed, the information went up again As for Undercover Alien’s claims that Phobos has been hollowed to create a space station, given the success rate of missions to Mars and her moons, there is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove it

The theory also raises the question as to why successful missions, like the Mars Curiosity Rover, were allowed to make landfall and collect photos and data, if a military struggle were underway Despite the last seventy years of enormous achievements, space exploration is still in its infancy For every high profile success, there are numerous failures preceding it The skill and resources it takes to push even a small craft out of the Earth’s orbit are immense If even one of those parts fails, the entire endeavour fails

Perhaps, in those circumstances, it is more comforting to find somebody to blame, be it Americans or otherworldly beings, instead of admitting simple human error

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