Space, Technology

“Lomonosov” Set To Embark To Orbit

Moscow-(ENEWSPF)- On April 27th, at 5:01 am Moscow time [02:01 UTC, 10:01 pm US Eastern Daylight Time on April 26th], the first launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome will take place. A Soyuz-2.1a rocket will place into orbit the scientific satellite “Lomonosov” of Moscow State University, along with the Aist-2D spacecraft and the nano-satellite SamSat-218.

Lomonosov is an international project engaging scientists and graduate and undergraduate students from South Korea, Canada, USA, Poland, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The satellite is intended for researching such extreme cosmic phenomena as gamma-ray bursts and cosmic rays of extremely high energy in the Earth’s atmosphere, near space, and the universe. Moreover, Lomonosov will monitor the radiation environment and dangerous objects in near-Earth space in collaboration with a network of ground-based telescopes.

The device is planned to be launched to an altitude of 490 kilometers. Its weight is 645 kilograms, and it contains 160 kilograms of scientific equipment. Lomonosov is expected to work for three years in orbit.

“Today is an important day not only for the Lomonosov Moscow State University, but also for the entire country and science in general. The real space program at the Moscow University started with the launch of our own satellites. In 2005 we launched the satellite ‘Tatiana,’ in 2009 ‘Tatiana-2.’ They completed their programs successfully. Now we start the real space research station. No university in the world has such cosmic science lab,” says the rector of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Viktor Sadovnichy.

Lomonosov is a modern research station at the forefront of fundamental science. This is an international project, which joined the forces of experts from the US, Germany, Canada, and other countries, but certainly the decisive contribution — financial, scientific, and intellectual –was provided by students, graduate students, and young scientists of Lomonosov Moscow State University. The satellite will monitor the asteroid danger and study the interaction of high-energy radiation from outside our galaxy. All the scientific data collected by the Lomonosov spacecraft will be available to the international scientific community concerned with fundamental space physics, astrophysics, Earth’s atmosphere, and other phenomena.

“From the Earth orbit, using a space experiment, we will first study the particles of the highest energies that exist in the universe,” says Mikhail Panasyuk, director of the Skobeltsyn Research Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University. “We observe an acceleration of cosmic particles called cosmic rays in the universe. The particles with the greatest energies are difficult to measure from the ground, because they are very few. Now we will do this with the space experiment onboard.”

Secondly, the unit will study gamma-ray bursts, which are the result of explosive processes in the universe. These processes took place a long time ago, right after the Big Bang, that is, in the era of the birth of the universe. They were accompanied by a large release of energy: generation of gamma radiation, ultraviolet radiation, visible light. Onboard the Lomonosov satellite a set of instruments will study gamma-ray bursts with gamma-ray detectors developed at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, as well as in the visible, ultraviolet and X-ray bands with telescopes created at the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute.

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The third scientific challenge set within the experiment is the study of the radiation environment of Earth. During disturbances that originate on the Sun, so-called geomagnetic storms, radiation fluxes increase, which creates a danger to spacecraft and humans in space. Lomonosov will help to understand the physics behind those changes.

The fourth task is to test the system, which refers to space biology. This is an electronic system that can adjust the shortcomings of the human vestibular apparatus, which appear during periods of weightlessness. All four of these areas we will try to implement onboard the Lomonosov satellite.

Also the onboard telescopes will monitor the near-Earth asteroid hazard. This system will work together with ground equipment, a system called “Master,” which has already been monitoring the cosmic danger both of the man-made and natural character.

According to Mikhail Panasyuk, the program under implementation is unique. Many universities around the world participate in the implementation of space programs, from nano-satellites to major experiments. However, Lomonosov is an integral scientific project.

The Aist-2D satellite, which will also be onboard the carrier rocket, is designed for remote sounding of the Earth. SamSat-218 satellite is a part of the “Contact” scientific equipment, whose tasks include testing of the control technologies in small spacecraft.

The construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region began in 2010. Originally it was planned to conduct the first launch in December 2015. However, mid-October last year, President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the work was behind schedule and proposed to move the start to the next year.

The total area of the Vostochny site is about 700 square kilometers. The cosmodrome is supposed to provide full access for Russia to space and reduce dependence of Russian cosmonautics on Baikonur, located in Kazakhstan.

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