The potential parachute from Mars 3′s lying on the planet surface. Credit (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

Is this the parachute of the 1971 Mars 3 lander lying on the surface of the Red Planet? Credit: (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

We’re running with a Russian theme today.

First up is the news that Russia is looking to ensure its status as a major space power by upping its spend on space related activities to 1.6 trillion rubles (or $A47 billion) over the next seven years.

Fittingly, the announcement came from Russian President Vladimir Putin, fifty-two years to the day since the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin successfully made the first human flight into space. Much of the money will be spent on the building of a new cosmodrome in Vostochny, which will act as the launchpad for both manned and unmanned space activities, operational from 2015.

In other Russian related news, amateur space enthusiasts seem to have found what may be the final resting place of the Soviet Mars lander, Mars 3. Studying publicly available images of the Mars surface, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the enthusiasts spied what could be parts of the parachute, rocket, heat shield and even lander itself. Notably, Mars 3 made the record books for the first ever successful Mars landing in 1971, although transmissions from the lander lasted only 14.5 seconds before cutting out and no useful data ever eventuated.

Finally, are you aware that learning Russian is a requirement for all NASA astronauts? I wasn’t, until I read this.