Russia launched a solar telescope after a break of 14 years

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A device of such a small size has never been launched into orbit.

The first Russian space telescope in 14 years to observe the Sun was sent into space by scientists from the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in partnership with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The SOL, as the telescope is called, is the smallest telescope in the world, weighing less than two kilograms. Recently, scientists have established two-way communication with the satellite on which the telescope is located, and are preparing for a full-fledged launch of the scientific program. We talked about it with one of the project leaders, Chief Researcher of the IKI RAS Sergey Bogachev.

The previous Russian device that observed the Sun – Koronas-Photon – stopped working in 2009. On it, according to Bogachev, was the world’s best solar telescope, but, unfortunately, due to the short work of the satellite itself, he had a chance to work less than a year. Since then, for 14 years, Russian scientists have been using data from foreign devices that “observe” our star.

The Russian telescope SOL, which successfully passed ground tests, was placed on the NORBI-2 nanosatellite and launched into space on June 27, 2023 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome together with the Meteor No. 2-3 satellite. The mass of NORBY-2 is less than 10 kg, of which the mass of the SOL telescope is less than two kg. In addition to ISTP SB RAS and IKI RAS, employees of the Novosibirsk State University and the Institute of Physics of Microstructures of the Russian Academy of Sciences worked on the creation of a nanosatellite and a telescope.

“To date, we have determined the position of the satellite in orbit and have begun to receive return telemetry, two-way communication with it has been established,” says Bogachev. – If everything goes according to plan, then in 10 days we will be able to turn on our instrument, try to aim at the Sun and get the first pictures.

– What information about the Sun will we receive from it?

– It will help us to register the radiation of the corona of the Sun and solar flares that cannot be seen from the Earth. Of course, we also do not refuse data from foreign devices, such as the American SDO observatory, – the quality of images obtained from large devices is not comparable with the data from small telescopes. But if we are suddenly denied access to foreign data, the quality of our telescope will be enough to see solar flares.

In a year, approximately in the summer of 2024, we are generally waiting for the solar maximum, during which our apparatus, which observes numerous events on the star, will help us a lot. The optics of the SOL telescope will make it possible to “distinguish” details on the Sun with a size of about 2 thousand kilometers. This will allow you to detect flashes from class C and above, up to the highest level – X.

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