Published: January 15, 2012
A Russian scientific probe that was meant to visit a Martian moon but never made it out of Earth orbit crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 700 miles west of Chile on Sunday, a Russian military spokesman said.
The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft had been circling Earth since shortly after its launching on Nov. 9, losing a few miles of altitude each day until it fell into the atmosphere. The 13-ton ship was one of the heaviest manmade objects yet to make an uncontrolled plunge back to Earth, though most of its weight was fuel and probably burned up during re-entry.
The vehicle could have crashed almost anywhere, but as with other falling space junk, the odds were that it would hit an ocean.
Col. Aleksei Zolotukhin, a spokesman for Russia’s Aerospace Defense Troops, told the Interfax news agency that the spacecraft, which broke up in the atmosphere, hit the water in fragments around 12:45 p.m. Eastern time.
Russia’s Phobos-Grunt Mars Probe Crashes Into Pacific - NYTimes.com