Russia blames radiation for space probe failure AP

The head of Russia’s space agency said Tuesday that cosmic radiation was the most likely cause of the failure of a Mars moon probe that crashed to Earth this month, and suggested that a low-quality imported component may have been vulnerable to the radiation. The unmanned Phobos-Grunt probe was to have gone to the Mars moon of Phobos, taken soil samples and brought them back. But it became stuck in Earth orbit soon after its launch on Nov. 9. It fell out of orbit on Jan. 15, reportedly off the coast of Chile, but no fragments have been found.
The failure was a severe embarrassment to Russia, and Popovkin initially suggested it could have been due to foreign sabotage.
But on Tuesday he said in televised remarks that an investigation showed the probable cause was “localized influence of heavily radiated space particles.”