Toxic Mars probe falling to Earth

The heaviest interplanetary spacecraft launched is about to become one of the most dangerous man-made objects to fall from space when it crashes to the ground next month.

The $245 million Russian Phobos-Ground probe was destined to land on a moon of Mars but problems soon after launch last month meant it was stuck in an unstable, low-Earth orbit.

Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, said yesterday that the truck-sized probe, weighing 13.2 tonnes and laden with 11 tonnes of toxic rocket fuel and 10kg of radioactive cobalt-57, would fall to Earth between January 7 and 20.

The agency said it could not calculate the crash site until a few days before the probe re-entered the atmosphere but it would pose little danger to people on the ground.

- Independent

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