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Chile Widens Search For Site of Russian Mars Probe Crash

November 29, 1996

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ Tipped off by NASA, Chilean ships and an air force plane headed to a site off the northern coast Friday, trying to find parts of the Russian Mars probe that crashed into the ocean earlier this month.

Russian scientists have said the Mars ’96 probe fell to Earth in two parts, landing in the Pacific Ocean almost 24 hours apart.

Scientists from the Chilean Nuclear Commission and the University of Chile were trying to determine whether the plutonium batteries carried by the Mars probe are causing radiation.

NASA suggested looking in an area 20 miles off the coast of Iquique in far northern Chile, where pieces of the spacecraft may have fallen Nov. 16, the foreign ministry said.

At the same time, another navy boat was sailing toward Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean, 2,700 miles west of Chile, to check the area were the probe was first reported to have fallen Nov. 17.

Two days after the crash was reported, an air force plane flew over the area near Easter Island but found no indications of radiation.

Navy spokesman Lt. Rodolfo Besoain denied reports that American and Russian experts where on en route to Chile to look for the downed spacecraft.

Update hourly