Rossiisky kosmos journal has carried an article by RAS Corresponding Member Lev Zelyony, director of the RAS Institute of Space Studies (ISS), with analysis of the results of a number of experiments on a near-Earth orbit and of processing the obtained information, with plans and prospects discussed for further exploration of the Universe* under the Federal Space Program for the period from 2006 through 2015.
First, the author, assessed the results of the Integral observatory's activity - the ESA, Roskosmos and NASA joint project** (2002), with Russia's researchers granted prior rights for a quarter of the observation time. The initial sessions of its operation produced many striking discoveries. For instance, in the course of research a group of new X-ray sources were revealed described as "absorbed". They most probably represent a special class of dual space systems, with one of the components in the form of an ordinary star, but many times larger than the Sun, and the other one-a neutron star. The former star's matter is being absorbed by the gravitation field of the latter and falls on it, with the result of an immense amount of energy released. As distinct from the Earth, powerful star winds are typical of those celestial bodies, and, as a result, they are wrapped in a dense matter layer absorbing the radiation. With more powerful energies, the star wind makes radiation weaker and, owing to this effect, the source looks very bright. It has been proved theoretically that if the star is ten times larger than the Sun, the amount of energy released by it is greater in the same proportion. Consequently, it will more rapidly consume the stock of its thermonuclear fuel. Those stars are comparatively short-lived. Integral has revealed their mighty X-ray sources, although the star wind clouds conceal many details from the telescopes operating in the range of lower energies.
Moreover, having revealed the nature of our Galaxy's background radiation evenly distributed throughout the Milky Way, specialists established that the density of X-ray source distribution in it is approximately 100 times greater than it was supposed earlier. Most of them (up to 1 million objects)
* See: L. Zelyony, Yu. Zaitsev, "Getting to Know the Universe", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2005. - Ed.
** See: Yu. Markov, "'Integral' in the Orbit", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2003. - Ed.
belong to accreting* white dwarfs and ordinary stars of dual systems (there are about 100 mln of them). Consequently, the X-ray background of the Galaxy is formed from the aggregate radiation of a great number of single sources. The significance of this discovery made by Russia's researchers is on a par with that of the Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642), one of the founders of exact natural science, who discovered that the Milky Way's light streak in reality consists of a great number of less bright stars.
Next, the author analyzed information gained on board Mars-Express (2003)** and Venus-Express (2005)*** European interplanetary stations carrying equipment designed with the direct participation of the RAS ISS personnel, among others. The equipment of both space stations functions normally, except for the Russian-made Fourier-spectrometer, installed on board Venus-Express, with certain problems in its scanning device. However, there is hope that they will be removed in the near future.
Detailed pictures of Venus' Southern Hemisphere were received for the first time ever. The presence of so-called dipole****, a sign of the atmosphere dynamics, has also been registered on it. Incidentally, Soviet-made Venera-15 unmanned space station discovered it above the planet's Northern Hemisphere in 1982.
Unknown structures were discovered in Venus' atmosphere as a result of its first monitoring in the near infrared spectrum region. Constantly changing optically dense haze could be observed at a height of 90 km in the Southern Hemisphere. The fact is that the phenomenon may be observed solely on the planet's daytime side.
As to Mars, very thin clouds consisting of minute carbonic acid ice crystals were discovered at a distance of 90 - 100 km from the surface. They look much like silvery accumulations of water drops, sometimes formed at a height of approximately 80 km above the Earth's surface. Surprisingly enough, these Martian clouds may be observed even with its very rarefied atmosphere and exceedingly low temperatures. Minute dust particles of tenths of microns in size serve as condensation cores in them. At the same time data have been accumulated of the seasonal densities of dust and water steam clouds above volcanoes in polar areas and in equatorial zones, with the daily indicators of atmospheric formations obtained. Morning haze and evening fog were also registered.
The author points out that the equipment designed at the RAS ISS discovered water on Mars in the form of subsur-
* Accretion is a fall of matter on the space body under the impact of gravitation forces accompanied by the release of gravitation energy; the efficiency of energy release in the process of accretion on neutron stars is tens of times higher than in nuclear reactions. - Ed.
** See: Yu. Markov, "Destination-Red Planet", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2003. - Ed.
*** See: O. Korablev, "Another Voyage to Venus", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2006, - Ed.
**** Dipole is a sum total of two spot electric or magnetic charges, equal in their power but having different signs, located at a certain distance from each other, - Ed.
face ice, while on Venus water must have evaporated into interplanetary space. This fact is corroborated by the data on the deuterium to hydrogen ratio in its atmosphere, which is 150 times higher than in the atmosphere of our planet.
Russian-made Resurs-DK1 (2006) unmanned space station is designed for distance probing of the Earth. It can carry out detailed and multi-spectral photography with a resolution of up to 1 m and transmit information via a radio channel in real time mode. The photo-complex on board the station operates with a capacity from 450,000 to 700,000 km" per day. After their respective processing valuable data may be obtained by consumers both in Russia and abroad.
It is no less important that the Resurs-DK1 developers have provided for a considerable weight, volume and energy reserve. Owing to this, apart from the basic payload, it carries goal-oriented instruments for related scientific and applied research. Incidentally, one of these instruments, named Pamela, the world's first of the kind, can measure "dark matter"* in outer space. This is an Italian-Russian joint project with the participation of researchers from Sweden, the United States and Germany. The subject of the exploration is based on the fact that "dark matter", or hidden mass, accounts for 25 percent of the Universe and "dark energy" (space vacuum), directed against the gravitation attraction forces and ensuring the unlimited expansion of all existing matter, which is boundless in time and space, accounts for the remaining 70 percent. In the course of Pamela's three years of uninteraipted operation specialists are planning to register some 10,000 antiprotons and 100,000 positrons. That will be sufficient for isolation of the annihilation effect, i. e., the transformation of particles and antiparticles upon their impact into other ones, very massive and weekly interacting, and the latter, the researchers believe, form the "dark matter" of interest to us.
Arina, another instrument installed on Resurs-DK1, is required for operative forecasts of our planet's behavior. It was revealed with is help, for instance, that bursts of high-energy charged particles took place in the near-earth space a few hours before an earthquake, so, the particles may be regarded as its short-term forerunners.
Arina's tests on board Resurs-DK1 have been completed. Information is transmitted from it to the Pamela spectrometer's ground receiving complex.
What kind of new space stations will be launched into space? The author believes that the Russian-made Coronas-Photon to be put on the orbit in 2007 will be probably the first scientific project. It is designed for the Sun's observation and for research into energy accumulation and transformation processes, study of acceleration mechanisms, distribution and interaction of the Sun's energy particles. In that case it is important to establish interdependence between solar activity and physical-and-chemical processes in the Earth's upper atmosphere.
All-round tests of research equipment, including Indian and Ukrainian equipment, for Coronas-Photon are nearing
* See: V. Zharov, L. Sazhin, "Gravitational Lensing in Astronomy", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2007. - Ed.
completion. A platform is at the same time in the process of assembly on the basis of the Russian-made Meteor-3 apparatus.
Moreover, the Federal Space Program provides for the Sun's exploration at a close distance, i. e., the Intergeliozond project. Study of the local physical properties of outer space in the near-solar area is its primary goal.*
Next, Russia is planning to launch the Radioastron space laboratory with a 120-meter parabolic aerial opening on the orbit, with the network of ground equipment to operate at the same time with the telescope.** The resolution capacity of the two jointly operating systems (the so-called radiointerferometers) will be equivalent to the radio-telescope with the aerial diameter equal to the distance between the ground and space equipment. With Radioastron orbiting the Earth at a height of 350,000 km, the radiointerferometer's resolution will have a capacity of hundred-thousandths of the angular second.
As a result, it will be able to have a close-up view of the most compact radio sources in the Universe: quasars, active cores of galaxies, space around black "holes", laser-type sources. These objects are so far removed from our planet that it is impossible to determine their structure with the help of traditional equipment, for solely the integral current from them may be registered. Radioastron's considerably elongated orbit is also ideally suitable for almost uninterrupted monitoring with very high time resolution of the parameters of the interplanetary medium at great distances from the Earth: of the solar wind plasma, of magnetic fields and the currents of charged particles. That is important for the study and forecasts of "space weather". That is why the researchers decided to supplement the project in question by the Plasma-F magnetic plasma experiment.
Research into space plasma physics will go on also owing to the implementation of the Rezonans project. In 2012 a space system of two satellites will be put into a near-earth orbit for research to be carried out into interaction between the electromagnetic radiation and charged particles in the Earth's internal magnetosphere and for a number of other works. Such data is important not only for fundamental research into plasma physics, radio-physics and geophysics but also for the solution of applied problems such as quantitative evaluation of the behavior of charged particles in the Earth's radiation fields and forecast of their condition, or of the dynamics of magnetic disturbances having a tangible effect on man's vital activity.
Spektr-UFT space observatory is currently developed by scientists in Russia for observation of the electromagnetic process in the ultraviolet range. The telescope installed on its board will "trap" bodies in outer space whose radiation is 20 times weaker than that currently observed by the most powerful American Hubble telescope.
The service of the Spektr-Roentgen-Gamma astrophysical project has been finally determined. The project has been developed in Russia since the early 1990s. Roskosmos and the European Space Agency have recently agreed to coordinate their programs of research in the X-ray range. As a result, the Spektr-RG/eROSITA/Lobster joint program has been born slated for 2011. Under the program observation will be possible of the entire sky in the broad range of energies with the help of X-ray telescopes, for the first time ever.
However, the implementation of a space flight to Mars with its soft-landing on Phobos***, its satellite, and with a soil sample taken and delivered to the Earth, is probably the most intriguing chapter of the Federal Space Program. And the station, to be left on Phobos, will go on with the exploration of Mars' satellite and monitor the climate of Mars and of the near-Mars space.
It's an open secret, Zelyony stressed, that it is precisely the Solar System's "small" planets that attract the researchers' special interest. The fact is that in the course of eons of time they underwent considerable changes under the impact of internal and external factors, volcanic activity among them. That is why the matter they are built of is a far cry from its primordial condition. It is quite different in the case of comets, asteroids or Martian satellites. Their small size rules out any internal heating or tectonic activity, i. e., they consist, just as ever, of the protoplanetary cloud's primary matter that served as a basis for the formation of all Solar System's space bodies, Earth among them.
The Luna-Globe project is a part of Russia's new program. Its primary goal is to explore the Moon's internal structure with search for water in the "cold trap" on the lunar pole and for the Moon's core, if any, with the determination of its size****. But the attention will be largely focused on the possibility of its utilization as a transit base for a Piloted Expedition to Mars to be implemented within the framework of the said project. In 2007 research and development will be carried of the key elements of the power generation complex and platform for such an expedition. According to various forecasts, it may take place in the 2020s - 2030s. And now, Zelyony pointed out in conclusion, volunteers are invited to take part in the accurate imitation of the real flight: a "crew" of six researchers will spend 520 days in the prototype of the space module.
L. Zelyony, "Space Exploration: From Orbital Telescope to Expedition to Mars ", Rossiisky kosmos, No. 12, 2006
Prepared by Yaroslav RENKAS
* See: B. Kuzhevskv, "Spotlight on the Sun", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2002. - Ed.
** See: Yu. Markov, "Space Telescopes", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2002; A. Finkelshtein. "Radio-lnterferometric Network Quasar", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2001. - Ed.
*** See: E. Galimov, "'Phobos-Grunt', the Russian Project". Science in Russia, No. 1, 2006. - Ed.
**** See: Yu. Avsyuk, "Focus on Lunar Studies"; 1. Mitrofanov, "Masteringthe Moon"; E. Galimov. "Luna-Helium-3 Project", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2006. - Ed.
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