by Zakutnyaya Olga
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Apr 12, 2012
On Cosmonautics Day Eve Russian scientists revealed their plans for the next years. While planetary exploration program is currently under discussion, there are other missions to be launched in near future. Magnetosphere research and astrophysics are among the most ambitious projects for the next years.
Russian space science is far from death, announced Lev Zelenyi, the director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI) in Moscow. The statement was made at special press conference held two days prior to the Gagarin's Flight Day to mark actual successes of Russian space research and nearest launches.
To begin with, Russian radio observatory RadioAstron still works in the orbit since its launch in June 2011. As of the end of 2011, RadioAstron was completing its tests slightly ahead of schedule. Regular experiments within the RadioAstron early science program (ESP) started in February 2012.
Alongside with radio telescope RadioAstron spacecraft also hosts an additional plasma experiment called Plasma-F, that has been operating regularly since summer 2011 and has already brought some interesting, even though not very picturesque for general public, results on space plasma environment in the near-Earth space. Such measurements are crucial for 'space weather' studies, i.e. studies of solar influence upon the Earth and its nearest medium.
Then, in January 2012 Chibis microsatellite was delivered to the orbit using Progress cargo ship. Being fairly small (with mass of around 40 kg), this spacecraft manages to carry a batch of spectrometers to study Earth's lightnings from above. Remarkably, it was developed by Russian Academy of Sciences rather than space industry and has proved to be an interesting concept for future projects using the same design. As Lev Zelenyi pointed out, Chibis-2 project targeting at greenhouse gases studies is currently being considered by developers.
Beyond the planets
The primary instrument is German eRosita, complemented by Russian ART-XC. Main tasks of the project are studies of the sky in X-ray energy range, which can provide clues for the mystery of dark energy, an enigmatic substance that accelerates the expansion of the Universe and makes about 70% of all matter and energy in the Universe. Spectr-RG, as its predecessor Spectr-R, belongs to the same Spectr missions' family which was proposed first in the end of 80's but could be finally brought to launch only in 2010's.
RESONANCE is a project to study Earth's magnetosphere consisting of four similar satellites (much like European's Cluster or rather Soviet-Russian INTERBALL). As plasma is highly variable environment, the more spacecraft in different points make the measurements the better. Its launch split into two parts is currently scheduled for the end of 2014 - the beginning of 2015.
Solar system under scrutiny
However, unlike earlier design, the first to go will be Russian Luna-Glob mission comprising an orbiter and a lander launched separately in 2015 and 2016, then followed by joint Russian-Indian Luna-Resurs, with Indian orbiter and a small rover, and Russian lander (2017).
Quite unexpectedly after Phobos-Grunt tragedy, Russian scientists have also got an opportunity to study Mars together with Europeans. A preliminary document settling mutual interest in Mars exploration within ExoMars project was signed last week in Moscow by the heads of Roscosmos and the European Space Agency. The agreement is expected to be signed later this year.
The details of the agreement are currently being discussed. However, there is some certainty in Russian role in the first part of the project to be launched in 2016 that includes Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Entrance, Descend, and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM).
Russia is going to place two instruments onboard TGO, that are ACS spectrometer complex and FREND neutron spectrometer. One of the TGO's tasks is to look for gases like methane that could possibly indicate the presence of life.
Russian part onboard EDM module is currently being discussed as well as its role in the second part of the mission, to be launched in 2018, that will deliver a rover to Mars.
Meanwhile, Russian instruments have successfully worked (and are still working) onboard many European and American spacecraft, so that the idea is by no means new. For instance, BepiColombo mission to study Mercury currently under development by ESA will also have several Russian instruments. However, shall ExoMars be a joint mission, Russian role in the project will grow accordingly.
As for the second Phobos-Grunt mission, the idea is not abandoned but, according to Lev Zelenyi, its turn may come no earlier than the launches of lunar missions. But, as he pointed out, Roscosmos officials have shared the view of the scientists on the importance of such mission.
Source: Voice of Russia
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Russia to shift space launches to Plesetsk, Vostochny
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 10, 2012
The number of space launches from Russia-based space ports Plesetsk and Vostochny must rise from 25% to 90% by 2020. This ambitious goal was laid down in the state space development project presented at the meeting of the Skolkovo club for space technologies and telecom and published in its official Twitter blog. Today, most of Russia's launches are carried out from the Baikonur spac ... read more
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