Days before Phobos-Grunt reenters the atmosphere, a new video captures the failed Mars probe traveling backward above the Earth. Its solar panels face away from the sun and there’s no sign of it tumbling, which most spacecraft are designed to do to maintain stability.
Paris-based amateur astrophotographer Thierry Legault captured the video below from the French Riviera on New Year’s Day. The Russian satellite is seen moving left to right, toward the direction of the sun. Legault — who is known for his stunning images of the space shuttle and ISS framed by the sun, among other astrophotographic achievements — traveled to the Calern Observatory above Nice, France, to set up his instruments for Phobos-Grunt’s flyby.
You can make out the bulbous fuel tanks to the right, and the solar panels to the left.
Phobos-Grunt is expected to plunge back to Earth sometime very soon, falling between 51 degrees north and 51 degrees south latitude.
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