Such a pity. The Roscosmos mission Fobos-Grunt really did hold such promise. The plan was to head to the Martian moon of Phobos and return with a sample soil from the surface of the tiny moon.
In a pleasantly international collaboration, Fobos-Grunt was carrying with it, the Chinese Yinghuo-1 probe, set to orbit Mars. It was also carrying the Planetary Society’s Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment (LIFE) capsule – a small cannister containing various living things from Earth, which were hitching a ride on Fobos-Grunt, with the intention of seeing how well they survived the journey. It would have been a great way of proving or disproving the ideas behind transpermia (the hypothesis that life may be able to transfer between planets by hiding inside rock fragments blasted into space by meteorite impacts).
Sadly, Fobos-Grunt never quite made it out of Earth orbit. Around 345 km from Earth, the craft apparently stalled. Unable to continue its journey, it ended up in an eccentric and unstable Earth orbit, before crashing somewhere over the Pacific in January this year.
Such a pity. I had high hopes for this particular probe…