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Friday, March 16, 2018

What is really going on with the satellite MSU

It so happened that the University satellite “Lomonosov” was launched from cosmodrome “East” on April 28 only at the second attempt. Though not his “fault”: there were problems with the booster. Now the satellite began transmitting scientific information. And about the current status of “MK” said the Director of the Institute of nuclear physics Institute of Moscow state University, scientific head of the complex of scientific equipment “Lomonosov”, Professor Mikhail Panasyuk.

Photo: courtesy of Mikhail Panasyuk.

— At the moment the satellite passed the stage of flight tests. The specialists of scientific research Institute of electromechanics — the head enterprise for the production of service platforms — checked the work of all its systems and conducted test inclusion of scientific equipment.

— How did they start?

The first was tested the complex of the equipment of monitoring and research of cosmic radiation, because radiation is the most dangerous factor in space and affects various systems of the spacecraft and human safety in space. Our instruments on the satellite will allow experts not only to monitor radiatsionnoi environment, but also to explore the physical phenomena associated with the nature of radiation itself: there is still a lot of unresolved issues. Then there was the appliance for testing of future devices intended to compensate for impairment of vision of man in space, and also tested three of the unit of the complex, designed to study astrophysical phenomena, gamma-ray bursts.

— What are gamma-ray bursts?

Is the most powerful phenomenon in the Universe, the cosmic explosion, during which enormous energy — about the same as in the explosion of supernovae, but for one second! Still the nature of gamma-ray bursts, along with the acceleration of cosmic rays of extremely high energies remains one of the major mysteries of modern science.

— What other mysteries will help you to solve “Lomonosov”?

For the first time in space earned two unique instrument with a field of view at 1,000 square degrees each, intended for simultaneous optical observations of gamma-ray bursts, and these mini-telescopes ultra-wide field of view already received the first image. Being the prototype of the future space warning system of the asteroid danger and avoid collisions with the technological objects in the future these devices will be part of a single integrated ground infrastructure, existing systems of robotic telescopes MSU “Master” and make its space segment. However, on the first frame, obtained by a short test comprising a unique optical system, were dozens flying in the vicinity of our satellite, other satellites and debris — so-called space debris. In fact, Lomonosov became the first Russian Observatory, capable of detecting radiation of cosmic objects from gamma-ray to the optical range. On Board the world’s first simultaneously present telescopes ultra-wide field of view, high temporal resolution, allowing to hope for a simultaneous registration of the optical signal, including from a short gamma-ray bursts, a private optical radiation which has never been observed.

— What other scientific breakthroughs prepares “Lomonosov”?

— Already deployed in the working position and the other astrophysical instrument — ultraviolet telescope “TUS” (Track setup) — a large reflecting telescope (mirror area is 2 sq m) with very high temporal resolution (less than 1 microsecond). He “otsmatrivat” the night the Earth’s atmosphere for the study of cosmic rays of extragalactic origin of the particles of the greatest energy known to humanity. Getting into the Earth’s atmosphere, they initiate a glow in the ultraviolet range, which registers the device. The world’s first attempt of such measurements from orbit, so the main task of the device is to show the effectiveness of this method. While the cosmic particle telescope will also observe a variety of processes in the Earth’s atmosphere, for example, vysokotochnye “fast” phenomena: sprites, jets, elves, etc. Is a very young field of physics, and highly sensitive measurements with high time resolution will allow to better understand the mechanisms of initiation and development of such atmospheric processes.

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