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Phobos-Grunt: NASA refuses to study whether US radar crashed Russia's Mars probe

NASA has turned down Russia's request to help investigate whether US radar could have brought down the Phobos-Grunt probe, which failed soon into its mission to Mars.

Phobos russia 2012 01 10Enlarge
A Zenit-2SB rocket, carrying the Phobos-Grunt (Phobos-Soil) spacecraft, stands at a launch pad of Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome early on Nov. 9, 2011, just before blasting off toward Mars. (STR//AFP/Getty Images)

NASA has refused to study whether US radar could have helped crash a Russian space probe on its way to Mars, Ria Novosti reported.

Russia's space agency Roscosmos filed an official request with its US counterpart, asking for NASA's cooperation on a government inquiry into the failure of the Phobos-Grunt probe, Roscosmos deputy director Anatoly Shylov said today.

More from GlobalPost: Phobos-Grunt plummets to Earth (VIDEO)

One of the theories being looked at is whether Phobos-Grunt malfunctioned due to interference from powerful US tracking radar stationed on an island in the Pacific Ocean.

Russian investigators have been conducting experiments to test whether the radar could have affected the probe's electronics systems. Roscosmos had expected NASA's cooperation, according to the Voice of Russia.

"There is evidence indicating that frequent disruptions in the operation of our space technologies occur in that part of the flight path that is not visible to Roscosmos and is beyond its control," the Associated Press quoted Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin as saying last week.

Several space experts have dismissed the radar theory as far-fetched, however. Brian Weeden, an orbital debris expert at the Secure World Foundation in Washington, told Space.com he had examined Russia's claims and found them to be "without any credibility whatsoever."

Skywatchers have calculated that Phobos-Grunt would have been below the radar's horizon each of the two times it passed over it, according to Wired.com.

The head of Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, has admitted that many of Phobos-Grunt's parts were already outdated by the time the probe launched, the craft having taken longer than anticipated to build. The project officially began in 1999.

Moscow is due to publish its conclusions on why Phobos-Grunt failed next week.

Despite the allegations of – unintentional – US interference, Russia and the US are cooperating on other space projects. Popovkin recently announced Roscosmos was in talks with NASA to build a permanent base on the Moon, while Russia is building a carrier rocket that will be used to launch a US telecoms satellite next month, Ria Novosti reported.

More from GlobalPost: Russia in talks to build permanent base on Moon

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/science/120126/phobos-grunt-crash-nasa-us-radar-roscosmos-russia