Russia Liable for Failed Mars Mission

A Russian space probe on its way to Mars, currently stuck in Earth's orbit, will fall back to Earth along with stores of toxic fuel. Under international law, Russia is liable for damages.

What's the Latest Development?


The Russian space probe Phobos-Grunt was just on its way to Mars last week when a malfunction trapped it in Earth's orbit. Communication problems have since prevented Russia's space agency from repairing the craft and it will soon reenter Earth's atmosphere uncontrollably. It is the third time in as many months that a large man-made object could fall from space and impact the surface of the Earth. But the Phobo-Grunt probe is differentit carries large amounts of toxic fuel on board.

What's the Big Idea?

An uncontrolled reentry implies that officials are uncertain about when and where the craft will impact Earth. The Outer Space Treat of 1967, expanded upon by the Liability Convention of 1972, 'applies a strict liability standard where the launching state is held strictly liable for any damage caused by a space object even in the face of circumstances that are outside its control'. It is possible that Russia may ask the U.S. to shoot down the probe to prevent an uncontrolled reentry, though diplomatic barriers may exist to such a request.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Originally Poe envisioned a parrot, not a raven

Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."

The Green Parrot by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Culture & Religion
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1949) is considered one of America's great writers.
  • Poe penned his most famous poem, The Raven, in his 30s.
  • Originally, the poem's feathered subject was a bit flamboyant.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less