Russian specialists plan to obtain samples of soil from the surface of Phobos - the most mysterious moon of Mars, revealed Russian television channel No.1.
The scenario of the mission to Phobos is already outlined down to a small detail. Within 350 days of blasting off, the spacecraft will enter the Martian orbit. After approaching the orbit of Phobos, the craft will examine it by remote sensing and choose a landing site. With surface contact established, a soil-scooping arm will be actuated. It will do the drilling and sample 200 to 300 grams of the soil. The samples will then be sealed and placed in a capsule of the recovery module. A few days later the lift-off rocket will blast off Phobos and enter a near-Martian orbit. From there, several months later, the recovery module, jettisoned from the rocket, will set on a journey back to Earth. After 300 days of voyaging it will approach the Earth.
The 50-kg scientific payload will stay on Phobos and will continue collecting and sending to Earth data of interest to scientists. The advantages of Phobos are its nearness to Mars and its small diameter - a mere 27 kilometers. It is believed that the relict substance - the building material of all planets in the solar system - is not very deep on the Martian satellite.
The current Phobos-Grunt project was conceived in the 90s and has been repeatedly reviewed since. Now it is a modern, inexpensive and feasible project which can be realized within the next five years.