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Phobos 2



Phobos 2, and its companion spacecraft Phobos 1, were the next-generation in the Venera-type planetary missions, succeeding those last used during the Vega 1 and 2 missions to comet P/Halley. The objectives of the Phobos missions were to: (1) conduct studies of the interplanetary environment; (2) perform observations of the Sun; (3) characterize the plasma environment in the Martian vicinity; (4) conduct surface and atmospheric studies of Mars; and, (5) study the surface composition of the Martian satellite Phobos.

The main section of the spacecraft consisted of a pressurized toroidal electronics section surrounding a modular cylindrical experiment section. Below these were mounted four spherical tanks containing hydrazine for attitude control and, once the main propulsion module had been jettisoned, orbit adjustment. A total of 28 thrusters (twenty-four 50 N thrusters and four 10 N thrusters) were mounted on the spherical tanks with additional thrusters mounted on the spacecraft body and solar panels. Attitude was maintained through the use of a three-axis control system with pointing maintained with sun and star sensors.

Phobos 2 operated nominally throughout its cruise and Mars orbital insertion phases, gathering data on the Sun, interplanetary medium, Mars, and Phobos. Shortly before the final phase of the mission, during which the spacecraft was to approach within 50 m of Phobos' surface and release two landers, one a mobile `hopper', the other a stationary platform, contact with Phobos 2 was lost. The mission ended when the spacecraft signal failed to be successfully reacquired on 27 March 1989. The cause of the failure was determined to be a malfunction of the on-board computer.

Alternate Names

  • 1F No.102
  • Fobos 2
  • 19287

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1988-07-12
Launch Vehicle: Proton-K
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 2600.0 kg

Funding Agency

  • Institut Kosmicheskich Issledovaniy(Inst. of Cosmophysical Research) (U.S.S.R)


  • Planetary Science
  • Solar Physics
  • Space Physics

Additional Information

Questions or comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. Edwin V. Bell, II.



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Andrej I. ZakharovProject ScientistInstitut Kosmicheskich Issledovaniya (IKI)

Selected References

Sagdeev, R. Z., et al., The Phobos project: Scientific objectives and experimental methods, Sov. Sci. Rev. E. Astrophys. Space Phys., 6, Pt. 1, 1-60, Aug. 1988.

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