Streetwise Professor

January 17, 2012

Doubling Down on Paranoia

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:30 am

Rather than letting the bizarre claim that the Phobos-Grunt Mars probe was brought down by dark foreign forces fade into obscurity, the Russians are doubling down:

A powerful electromagnetic emission from a U.S. radar in the Pacific could have caused the malfunctioning of the Russian Phobos-Grunt probe, the Kommersant daily said on Tuesday.

A Russian government investigation commission is considering several causes of the failure, including a short circuit or “external impact,” the paper said citing an unnamed source in the Russian space industry.

“Experts do not dismiss the possibility that the probe could have accidentally come under the impact of emissions [from a U.S. radar stationed on the Marshall Islands], whose megawatt impulse triggered the malfunctioning of on-board electronics,” the source said.

And they are going to test this possibility using a model:

The investigators said that they would stage an experiment where a model Phobos will be subjected to radiation similar to that from U.S. radars.

“The results of the experiment will allow us to prove or dismiss the possibility of the radars’ impact,” said Commission head Yury Koptev, the former head of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.

Give me a break.  Radiation would most likely impact the craft’s electrical and computer systems.  Just how, exactly, could a toy reproduce these systems from the full-sized probe?  Or the shielding that the actual probe’s electrical and computer systems had?

And this isn’t Russophobia. Russian scientists are snickering–publicly–at the hypothesis:

The theory that Russia’s Mars mission failed due to a U.S. radar is extremely “exotic,” Russian scientists said on Tuesday.

Phobos-Grunt, Russia’s most ambitious planetary mission in decades, was launched on November 9 but it was lost due to a propulsion failure and fell back to Earth on Sunday.

The crash could have been caused by a powerful electromagnetic emission from a U.S. radar in the Pacific Ocean, the Kommersant daily reported earlier on Tuesday citing an unnamed source in the Russian space industry. The source stressed that it was more likely an accident rather than an act of sabotage.

“Consider the power of the impact. I don’t think the Americans have radars capable of ensuring such power at such an altitude [about 200 kilometers],” said Alexander Zakharov of the Russian Academy of Sciences Space Research Institute, where the Phobos equipment and research program were developed.

He suggested the theory was just a blind to cover up some people’s mistakes.

“I simply think that is disingenuous. It is convenient to find the cause of the failure on the outside,” he said, adding that “external impact hypotheses” were “far-fetched.”

“The spacecraft itself should be examined first. There are problems there,” he said.

That would be a great idea . . . except they don’t know exactly where it went down.  They say: “[Phobos-Grunt] ‘had ceased its existence in a section covering ‘the southern part of the Pacific Ocean, South America and the Atlantic Ocean.’”  Glad they narrowed that down.

Some more:

His view was echoed by Viktor Savorsky, a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Radio Technology and Electronics.

“The electronic equipment [of spacecraft] is usually protected very well against radiation and sheltered against external fields,” he said.

But not to worry!  Dmitri Rogozin is on the case!  (And what a case load he has!)

“I’m taking personal control of the investigation into the reasons for the Phobos-Grunt accident,” Russia’s former ambassador to NATO and recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin wrote on his Twitter account.

Rogozin said he expected the Russian space agency Roscosmos to name the “anti-heroes” responsible for the latest in a series of space failures.

I don’t like to throw around “neo-Soviet”, but that last remark about “anti-heroes” surely warrants it.  The implication is that the disaster was intentional.  He might as well have said Roscomsmos should identify the “foreign saboteurs or domestic wreckers responsible for the disaster.”

Speaking of Rogozin, upon parting his NATO ambassadorship, he planted two poplar trees–“topol” in Russian.  Topol, of course, is also the name of Russia’s primary ICBM.  Just to make sure that people knew this was not an accident, he called one of the trees “Topol-M”: that being the name of Russia’s road mobile version of the missile.

Rogozin’s prominence in the Russian government tells you a lot.  And one thing it tells you is that there’s going to be a reset when Putin reassumes the presidency, but nothing like what Obama has dreamed of.

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  1. I can’t wait to see his explanation in “The Adventure of the Silent Grunt” that follows so fast on the heels of “The Scandal of the Missing Hull”.

    When the voting brouhaha broke Dmitry made it well know that he was NOT a member of United Russia very shortly after Putin made the same claim.

    Comment by pahoben — January 17, 2012 @ 11:14 am

  2. I thought it was the Mystery of the Holy Hull 🙂

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 17, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  3. Better 🙂

    Comment by pahoben — January 17, 2012 @ 11:37 am

  4. I never knew “Dmitry Rogozin” translated to “Sherlock Holmes”.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 17, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  5. Well it is either Holmes or Clouseau-I sometimes confuse them.

    Comment by pahoben — January 17, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

  6. Too true, and too funny. Yeah. It’s Clouseau Goes Cossack.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 17, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  7. Geeze, if it had fallen victim to emissions from a radar, it could have been from a Russian radar tracking the damn thing.

    If they are stupid enough to follow this hypothesis, then maybe they need to explain how it would be expected to survive solar radiation outside the Val Allen belts…….

    Russians, really you do have to wonder sometimes….

    Comment by Andrew — January 17, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

  8. @Andrew: sometimes?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 17, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  9. Phobos steal your soul.

    Comment by So? — January 17, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

  10. It’s really kind of scary how neo-Soviet this is, isn’t it?

    Comment by La Russophobe — January 17, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

  11. When did the SU blame the US for space failures?

    Comment by So? — January 17, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

  12. This is doing the rounds on runet as the real McCoy.

    Brace yourself for a Rogozin reaction.

    Comment by So? — January 17, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

  13. Kissinger discussing The Call of Duty is very funny.

    I read his PHD Thesis a long time ago. It was truly brilliant but he is still a definite typewriter guy.

    Comment by pahoben — January 17, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  14. True So?, the USSR just covered up it’s space program disasters and claimed they never happened in the first place.

    They did try and blame the US for an earthquake that killed a lot of people in Armenia one time though….

    Comment by Andrew — January 19, 2012 @ 9:17 am

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