Russian Radioastron become the largest radio telescope in space


20/07/2011

Radioastron, a Russian radio telescope launched into orbit around the Earth and become the most distant cosmic radio telescope.

After starting all systems, 4-ton "cosmic eye" will see many distant places in the universe.

The unit will revolve around the Earth in an elliptical path, in the most remote locations receding almost to the moon. Space launch took place on Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on the Zenit-3M rocket carrier. This telescope will be part of the Russian space observatory Spectrum-R. Despite the fact that the size of the antenna Radioastron of 10 meters, which is much less than many terrestrial radio telescope antenna, it receives the signals and ground-based telescopes will be combined, making it the largest radio telescope in space. Soon after reaching the target orbit, the instrument successfully opened its solar panels, said Victor Hart, CEO of NPO. Lavochkin, who created the device. According to him, the device will make one revolution around the Earth in eight days. "On the fifth day [after launch] will open the telescope mirror, and in the next three months we will prepare the observatory for practical work," - he added.

Although Radioastron provide more accurate information than the American Hubble, the Roscosmos assure that the device is not its replacement. "Hubble - optical telescope and Radioastron - Radio", - said the representative of Roscosmos Alexei Kuznetsov. "I would say that they will complement each other."

When the 27 petals unfold dish consisting of carbon fiber, will collect data that will be combined with those of terrestrial radio telescopes.

Technique combination of these multiple telescopes to produce a single image is called interferometry.

The result is an image with extremely high resolution, as if it was made with a telescope of wide plates, which is comparable with the maximum distance between the antennas of radio telescopes - from the Earth to the Moon.

One of the main tasks of the telescope, is the study of the nearby galaxy M-87, which is located at a distance of 59 million light years from Earth.

Scientists believe that there may be a black hole, and Radioastron should test this hypothesis.

In addition, the researchers do not forget about our galaxy. Scientists hope to get more information about pulsars, the interstellar plasma and neutron stars in the Milky Way.

Expectancy of the device is at least five years.

But the Russian space program in 2011 is not just limited to Radioastron. This year, the Federal Space Agency plans to send a probe to Phobos, one of the moons of Mars to explore its surface.

Original: Bbc


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