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A Phobos mission was discussed at NASA's Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration workshop and a report issued June 26 stated that the Martian moons are "important destinations that may provide much of the value of human surface exploration at reduced cost and risk."
Phobos and Deimos are plotted to within 2 kilometers (using formulas developed for the 1988-89 Phobos mission) and Jupiter's moons to within 0.1 arc second for this century.
The normally successful Soviet space program has been marred this year by two major communication problems, the failure of the highly publicized two-spacecraft Phobos mission to Mars and a shutdown of cosmonaut operations on the Mir station complex.
"The closest analogue of the rock on Earth," according to one of the Phobos mission teams, "has been found to be subalkaline basalt occurring on oceanic seabeds."
The imminent Soviet Phobos mission calls for two spacecraft, each of which includes a lander and a surface-hopper, to head for Mars and settle into a long elliptical orbit around the planet.