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Russian Arctic-mapping satellite malfunctions: Ifax

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian satellite launched last year to map the Arctic has stopped working, a space industry source told the Interfax news agency on Thursday, in the latest disappointment for the country's once-pioneering space program.

The orbiter, Zond-PP, was the first of five Earth-mapping satellites being developed by Russia. Launched in July 2012, it was expected to have a three-year life span.

"Zond-PP is declared lost due to a technical malfunction," the source told Interfax, but added experts were working to try to revive the probe.

The satellite was equipped to monitor ocean salinity levels and land humidity to help Russian meteorologists model ocean currents and ice floes in the Arctic. It was also intended to test imaging systems to detect oil and benzene spills.

Moscow has boosted space industry spending and said it wants to redirect energy away from manned flight, which makes up nearly half its budget, to focus on pioneering Earth-mapping satellites and deep space exploration.

But the country that sent up the world's first artificial satellite has suffered a series of humiliating failed satellite launches that industry veterans blame on a decade of budget cuts and a brain drain.

(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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