It's certainly possible your SSD
is fried. What does the BIOS say about it? A capacity of "0MB" indicates a hardware problem.
As for the repair, you should be able to get a modest Mini 9 SSD
for $50 or less. Ubuntu should have no problem fitting on a 8GB drive. I got the latest version running on my Mini 9's 4GB drive without problem, but I wouldn't recommend the 4GB drive to most people. It's slow, and you can run out of space real quick if you're not careful.
As for why Mini 9 SSDs fail, my uninformed opinion is that crummy SSD
controllers panic when a small amount of flash goes bad (which is inevitable). A newer netbook can use a 2.5" SSD
, and a new 2.5" SSD should
be more reliable than the "Mini PCIe" SSDs used by the Mini 9 ('cause they're newer, more popular, more development effort, etc).