Phobos-Grunt was a Russian lander that was launched on the 9th of November 2011, with its main purpose being to perform a return mission to Mars, collecting samples.
Rocket burns intended to propel the Phobos-Grunt on a course to Mars failed, leaving it in a low orbit around Earth.
Parts of the spacecraft began breaking off and re-entering the atmosphere in early December, with the rest predicted to re-enter in January.
main image (top) source (credited to ESA)
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Re-entry of Phobos-Grunt
Phobos-Grunt is expected to make an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere in the next couple of weeks. Debris has begun falling to Earth but the main spacecraft,
weighing in at 13.2 tons, is yet to come.
As well as the main body of the craft, including the nose-cone shaped descent vehicle which was designed to return to Earth,
there is a Chinese Mars orbiter onboard.
It's estimated that up to 30 individual pieces of debris totalling 13.2 tonnes may survive re-entering our atmosphere, and potentially make it to Earth (heads up!).
The current estimated date of re-entry is likely to be around the 9th of January 2012, but where it will land is unknown...
Why an App?
When the recent UARS satellite de-orbited, many enthusiasts relied on popular satellite tracking websites for information.
Unfortunately, these sites couldn't keep up and so most were left in the dark until well after news reports started to come through.
Our unique service consists of distributed, high-speed servers that can feed millions of small updates to iPhones/iPads without choking.
Our Phobos-Grunt Tracking HQ manually monitors multiple sources, including US Military tracking feeds to estimate the reentry time with increasing accuracy as the time approaches.
Every time the estimate changes, we feed it to the Phobos-Grunt Reentry App so you'll know when to LOOK UP!!!!