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Author(s) of the publication: Ya. SIBIRTSEV

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What we are getting used to, unfortunately, is that news about studies of space is being less and less associated with "OUR COUNTRY". In an ARTICLE in the MOSKOVSKAYA PRAVDA daily journalist Viola Egikova said this is not because Russia has been losing its "scientific brains" and able workmen. The point is that, modern science is in need of more and more advanced and expensive tools of research-something we do have problems with. This makes it all the more important the event which took place on the eve of the 250th anniversary of the Moscow State University named after M. Lomonosov: on January 20, 2005 the University launched its own space probe from the Plisetsk cosmodrome. And it was named TATYANA in honor of the Christian Heavenly Patroness of the celebrated Russian school of higher learning (Feast Day-January 25).

The high-tech "guts" for the satellite were designed and built by the University students and professors, who also formulated the program of research. The satellite is really unique: it is the first Russian miniature space probe which weighs only 25 kg. As experts point out, building and launching such space probes opens up a major perspective for the progress of cosmonautics. And it was not accidental that the first step along this path has been made by Moscow University whose scientists designed instruments for the world's first artificial Earth satellite (October 4, 1957). With all that-why build the TATYANA? In answer to that question experts say the mission combines educational and a range of serious scientific objectives, such as studies of the Earth magnetic belt, of solar-terrestrial links, discharges of solar energy and studies of other physical processes in the near-Earth space. The Moscow University Rector, Acad. Viktor Sadovnichy, stressed that data supplied by TATYANA for not less than 3 years will be available through the INTERNET to all the persons concerned. A University data processing center has been set up with that aim in view.

Significant progress in this field has also been achieved by another Russian center of research - the RAS Institute of Space Studies (IKI). Its experts have summed up the results of the MARS-EXPRESS mission. This probe of the European Space Agency was put into the orbit of the Red Planet in December 2003 and its instruments "went into action" in January 2004. Instruments provided by IKI RAS researchers helped to make sensational discoveries on Mars (that is why the leading international journal SCIENCE listed the results of the MARS-EXPRESS mission among the main achievements of 2004)*.

Another unique instrument - HEND developed by IKI RAS scientists and mounted on board of the American interplanetary lab MARS-ODYSSEY, discovered ice in the bowels of the Red Planet. Other equipment designed and built by the same Institute discovered water vapor on the Mars surface. This, together with the previous discoveries of this kind, adds "steam" to doctrines about the existence of some life forms on the planet.

And more. The aforesaid Russian research centers have helped to draw some conclusions about processes on our own planet. Data obtained by the unmanned interplanetary probes indicate that the atmosphere of the Red Planet is screened from the hard space radiation by a thin, but effective, layer of ozone. And the Russian-built SPIKAM spectrometer (another "progeny" of IKI RAS) has proved that this layer is eroded by water vapor. And the same process is observed here on Earth! Say, the planet is threatened by a global warming leading to steam concentrations in the upper atmosphere. And the "clouds" of droplets of water over our planet promote the reflection of solar light which therefore reaches us in smaller amounts.

Summing it up, active space studies, including those of the solar-terrestrial links, such as those to be carried out by the TATYANA, are of truly considerable importance for the human race.

Moskovskaya Pravda (Moscow Pravda) newspaper, 2005

Prepared by Ya. SIBIRTSEV

See: I. Mitrofanov, "Unlocking Martian Enigmas", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2002; Yu. Markov, "Destination-Red Planet", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2003; M. Litvak, I. Mitrofanov, "Seasons on Mars", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2004. - Ed.


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