The plight of Phobos Grunt spacecraft remains an interesting dilemma. ESA (European Space Agency) ground station in Perth, Australia failed in attempts to signal Phobos Grunt, reveals Spaceflight Now article. "Outfitted with a feedhorn antenna designed to attenuate the power of its radio signals...[the]...ground station heard signals from Phobos-Grunt twice last week...Perth's 49-foot dish antenna received limited telemetry from the spacecraft...Details on communications attempts have come exclusively from ESA," according to article. Russia requested the Perth station to transmit more orbit-raising commands. However, "the Perth facility only has between six and eight minutes each time Phobos-Grunt flies overhead in sight of the station, providing limited windows for transmitting commands and receiving data," continues article.
The casual observer gets a clearer picture how space communications actually work through space agencies' attempts to overcome failure. What will happen to Phobos Grunt? "Because Phobos-Grunt's altitude is so low, experts say the fuel-laden craft will succumb to the affects of drag and fall back to Earth early next year. Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief orbital debris expert, said the re-entry may occur in late January or February, but a specific time period won't be known until much later," concludes the article. Is Phobos Grunt forever "lost in space" and Mars a futile destination in light of repeated failures?