Russian scientists say they’re preparing to test an unmanned lander for a 2011 mission to Phobos, one of the moons of Mars.
The Phobos-Grunt spacecraft will land on the surface of Phobos, take soil samples and return them to Earth, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
“The aim of the test is to narrow down the lander’s projected impact location on the surface of the Earth,” a statement by Russia’s Central Aerodynamic Institute said.
“As far as the lander ... does not include any signaling equipment ... narrowing down its projected impact area will make the search for it easier,” the statement said.
The project was conceived in 1999, and in June 2006 the Russian aerospace company NPO Lavochkin started manufacturing and testing the development version of the spacecraft’s on-board equipment.
The mission is expected to begin in November 2011 and last some 330 days, RIA Novosti said.