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Euphoria of Space Research
October 13, 2006 16:48

The Institute of Space Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences has announced the beginning of the new space year – traditionally it starts October 4 – the launch date of the first man-made Earth’s satellite. Chief scientists of various ambitious space projects have reported their plans and challenges during the conference, dedicated to the celebration. The audience was enchanted with Mars climate research prospects, studies of distant galaxies, dark matter, and solar energy particles.

Current year of 2006 is the first year of the new Federal space programme. Thus, the burning issue of space research is lack of research staff and scientific schools, not funding limitations. Today no Russian scientific satellites browse vast space expanses – the only hope for domestic space science is Russian research equipment, installed on foreign space ships. But 2007 will see the launch of “Coronas-Photon” space ship, designed for Sun observation. Its main tasks are studying correlations between the solar activity and physical and chemical processes in the upper layer of Earth’s atmosphere, especially climate changes. The space ship will find the answer whether the mankind is really responsible for the global warming effect. The “Coronas” project unites scientists from Russia, Japan, The United States, India, and Poland.

The “Radioastron” astrophysical observatory will search for life traces in our Universe, study superdense fast-rotating stars and find possible candidates for “mole holes” – doors to other Universes, which are considered to be numerous. The “Pamela” equipment, installed at the “Resurs-DK1” space vehicle launched this June measures flows of charged particles in the vast range of energies. "Pamela" is a precise magnetic spectrometer, able to detect and measure electric charge, speed, impulse, energy, and mass of space particles, as well as its direction and arrival time. The Russian and Italian joint "Pamela" unit is aimed at detecting dark matter, which is thought to form 95% of the Universe - first results have already arrived and are being processed in Moscow Institute of Physics and Informatics. Scientists hope to find evidence of existence of previously unknown particles - "neutralino", which were formed, when our Universe was very young.

Planetary research also includes "Phobos-Grunt" project, aimed at studies of the Martian satellite. The vehicle launch to Phobos is scheduled for 2009, and scientists are now testing the soil sampling equipment. Tiny Phobos is extremely interesting to scientists due to its possible origin from the original material of the protoplanetary cloud forming all planets and other bodies of the Solar system. Phobos's size allows suggesting lack of tectonic activities and internal heating, thus leaving its material unchanged.

Scientists have detected Mars having northern lights, which is an evidence of planet magnetic field's existence, which is still being discussed. As for the manned mission to the Earth's nearest neighbour - its main issue is crew's safety. Scientists have developed radiation protection for future Mars conquerors - fuel tanks weighing about 250 tons will screen ship's living module from radiation. First non-stop manned flight to Mars is expected to be performed not earlier than 2015, the scientists say. All necessary technologies have already been developed, but require tests.

The scientists have also reported about the discovery Russian astrophysicists have recently made: they found the reason for the Milky Way' x-ray fluorescence. Russian think-tank has explained why Venus and Mars have lost atmospheric water and found thin clouds of carbon ice in the atmosphere of said planets. Russian scientists also plan to launch the "Spektr-YFT" extra-atmospheric observatory in 2010 - this observatory is able to detect celestial bodies with radiation 20 times weaker that the "Hubble" detects. Russians will continue to study the Moon ("Luna-Globe" project), invisible solar polar areas ("Intergeliozond" project), observe distant regions of our Galaxy ("INTEGRAL" project), etc.

Anna Kizilova


Tags: Russian scientists Russian science space Russian Academy of Sciences  

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