One tonne Soviet probe could crash to Earth THIS YEAR after nearly FIVE DECADES circling aimlessly around the planet since Russia’s failed attempt to reach Venus in 1972
- Kosmos 482 has circling Earth ever since a disastrous launch on March 31, 1972
- It reached orbit and then its second dtage to go to Venus failed
- This sent some bits of metal down to Earth but most remained in space
- Recent analysis predicts it will crash down to Earth later this year in tact
A Soviet spacecraft that launched in 1972 and was destined to land on the surface of Venus before the mission failed is expected to crash land on Earth later this year.
The 1,091 lbs (495 kilogram) hunk of Russian technology is ‘highly likely’ to survive re-entry in one piece as it was built to be hardy enough to withstand Venus’s dense atmosphere.
Most of Kosmos 482 has been circling aimlessly in orbit around Earth ever since a disastrous launch on March 31, 1972 ruined the project and turned it into useless space debris.
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Soviet probe Kosmos 482. It launched in 1972 and was destined to land on the surface of Venus before the mission failed is expected to crash land on Earth this year
Its eventual demise and return to the surface of our planet has been expected for a long time but previous estimates placed the landing between 2023 and 2025.
Revised analysis from Space.com has now found it may happen in 2019.
It was launched before its sister probe, Venera 8, but became stranded in Earth’s orbit.
Venera 8 successfully completed its landing on our celestial neighbour in July 1972 and became only the second spacecraft to reach the surface.
It transmitted data for 50 minutes and 11 seconds before it succumbed to the 300 g-force and 100 atmospheres of pressure on Venus.
Kosmos 482 was launched by a Soviet booster and successfully made it into an Earth parking orbit before failing to launch onward towards Venus.
At this point it splintered into four different pieces.
A cutaway diagram of the soviet Venera 8 landing capsule, 1972. It transmitted data for 50 minutes and 11 seconds before it succumbed to the 300 g-force and 100 atmospheres of pressure on Venus
It was launched before its sister probe – Venera 8 – but became stranded in Earth’s orbit. Venera 8 (model, pictured) successfully completed its landing on our celestial neighbour in July 1972 and became only the second spacecraft to reach the surface
Two stayed in orbit but four fell to Earth and landed in the land of a New Zealand farmer.
The balls were 15 inches in diameter (38 cm) and were supposed to be returned to their home state but the Soviet Union refused to acknowledge the debris belonged to them.
They inflicted no harm but did scorch holes in crops and were confirmed to have been gas pressure vessels from the Kosmos 482 calamity by later analysis.
‘Yes, the descent craft will survive a re-entry with no problems,’ said satellite watcher Thomas Dorman of the northeastern Oklahoma community of Zeb, speaking to Space.com.
‘It would be funny if it was spotted coming down and the parachute has deployed … but I am sure the batteries to fire the pyrotechnics to release the parachute have died long ago!’
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SOVIET UNION
The Soviet Union was founded in 1922 with Vladimir Lenin as its head of state and was a key power throughout the 20th Century.
During World War II, it was an Allied Power and helped defeat Nazi Germany.
Immediately after the war, Soviet forces captured much of Eastern Europe, including east Germany – territory it would hold for many decades.
The Soviet Union and the United States entered a period of prolonged tension called the Cold War.
During this period, the two superpowers entered several technological races, including the nuclear arms race and space race.
In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.