MOSCOW — The head of Russia’s space agency reportedly says cosmic radiation was the most likely cause of the failure of a Mars moon probe that crashed to Earth this month.
The unmanned probe was to have gone to the Mars moon of Phobos, taken soil samples and brought them back. But it became stuck in Earth orbit soon after its launch on Nov. 9. It fell out of orbit on Jan. 15, reportedly off the coast of Chile, but no fragments have been found.
The failure was a severe embarrassment to Russia, and space agency head Vladimir Popovkin initially suggested it could have been due to foreign sabotage.
But Russian news agencies on Tuesday quoted him as saying an investigation showed the probable cause was a flareup of cosmic radiation affecting the onboard computer system.