Russian Poison From The Sky

This time, it’s the Russian’s turn to randomly drop a spacecraft to Earth from orbit, only this one is loaded up with ten tons of highly toxic chemicals. When you duck, don’t forget your umbrella.

Toxic Russian Mars Probe Heads Back to Earth

It’s hard to believe that only last week we were getting excited for Russia’s first interplanetary mission in 15 years to launch. By now, we should be happy in the knowledge that the ambitious — and awesome — mission is powering through space, toward the Martian moon Phobos.

The reality is that we are now discussing uncontrolled reentry scenarios.

As if that wasn’t enough bad news, we are looking at an uncontrolled toxic reentry scenario. Phobos-Grunt — correctly written “Fobos-Grunt,” meaning “Phobos-Soil” or “Phobos-Ground” — is fully-laden with unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide; that’s ten tons of fuel and oxidizer. The probe itself weighs-in at only three tons.

The majority of the fuel will likely vaporize during reentry, but everyone will be hoping for a splash-down in an ocean (which covers two-thirds of Earth, fortunately), as the wreckage will still be hazardous. There’s also a small quantity of radioactive cobalt-57 in one of the science missions housed in the probe — a fact that will most likely cause a media frenzy.

It is for these reasons that the Russian media is dubbing Phobos-Grunt “Most toxic falling satellite ever.”

See also:
Russia’s Phobos-Grunt Spacecraft Goes AWOL
Russian Mars Probe Will Likely Come Crashing Back to Earth
Toxic Russian Mars Probe Likely Heading Back to Earth
Mood grim over Mars probe faultRussia Running Out Of Time, As Mars Mission Seems Destined To Fail
Report: Russians Believe Martian Moon Probe is ‘Lost’
Source: Russian Space Probe Unlikely to be Saved
Phobos-Grunt Mars probe remains silent in Earth orbit
Now Russians can’t even contact their busted Mars probe
Contact with Russian Mars probe ‘unlikely’ – expert
Failed Russian space mission shows difficulty of exploring Mars
Salvaging Science from Stricken Mars Moon Probe: A Scientist’s View
Phobos-Grunt mission
Fobos-Grunt

Man, the Russians just can’t catch a break. This is their fourth launch failure just this year and now they’re 0 for 18 at Mars missions.

/and we trust the Russians with our U.S. astronauts, it makes me nervous

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The World’s Hottest New Vacation Destination

And by hottest, I mean radioactive hot. Forget the suntan lotion, bring a dosimeter.

Kiev Sees Chernobyl as Tourist Hot Spot

Ukraine’s government wants to turn Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, into a tourism hotspot.

Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday it is working on a plan to open the area around the defunct plant—where a reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, spreading radiation across the then-Soviet states of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia—to visitors starting next month.

The ministry said radiation levels in certain parts of the so-called exclusion zone, which stretches 30 kilometers (19 miles) around the exploded reactor, were now returning to normal levels. Visitors will be able to take in views of the nuclear plant, as well as towns and villages that were abandoned in the disaster’s aftermath.

New official tour operators would have to meet strict criteria to be allowed to operate, said Yulia Yurshova, a spokesperson for the Emergency Situations Ministry, as straying from the route can be dangerous because of the threat of collapsing buildings and varying radiation levels.

“The Chernobyl zone isn’t as scary as the whole world thinks,” said Ms. Yurshova. “We want to work with big tour operators and attract Western tourists, from whom there’s great demand.”

See also:
Chernobyl: now open to tourists
Holiday in Chernobyl: Ukraine to lift restrictions on disaster site
Ukraine plans to open Chernobyl, site of massive nuclear disaster, open to tourists in 2011
Chernobyl to be ‘extreme’ tourism site
Ukraine to open Chernobyl zone to tourists
Tourists invited to holiday in Chernobyl
Chernobyl as tourist attraction
Ukraine’s newest tourist destination: Chernobyl
Chernobyl Accident
Chernobyl disaster

What’s not to like? There’s plenty of abandoned buildings and desolate landscape to see. It’s fun for the whole family, bring the kids! The souvenir shop is to die for.

/it’s bad enough that they’re going to let tourists into the exclusion zone to dose up on radiation, but just think of the poor tour guides that will have to go back in day after day to make a living