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Russia Still Unable To Communicate With Phobos-Grunt Mars Probe

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PHOBOSGRUNT
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MOSCOW -- Russian space engineers are still struggling to fix a probe bound for a moon of Mars that instead got stuck in Earth's orbit.

The Phobos-Grunt (Phobos-Ground) was launched Wednesday and reached preliminary orbit, but its engines never fired to send it off to the Red Planet. The unmanned probe will come crashing down in a couple of weeks if engineers fail to fix the problem.

The ITAR-Tass news agency reported Sunday that efforts to communicate with the spacecraft have so far been unsuccessful. The agency said U.S. and European space engineers also were attempting to retrieve data from the probe as it passed over their territory.

A satellite tracking website showed the Mars probe steadily losing altitude as it passed over Asia on Sunday afternoon.

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