Russian scientists have developed a new type of spacecraft monitoring the Sun

Over the next stage of the development work on the project "Intergeliozond" — a unique space mission aimed at the withdrawal of small spacecraft in orbit around the Sun. Prior to the 2012 Academy of Sciences and the Federal Space Agency plans to conduct preliminary design of the spacecraft, during which will be finally determined by its shape and structure of scientific instruments. Key depicting devices and which will "look" at our star up close, made at the Physical Institute. PN Lebedev Physical Institute.

Why do run the spacecraft to the sun? Perhaps for many, this question seems trivial. If we want to study Mars, we’re flying to Mars. If you want to study Jupiter, then to Jupiter. It seems logical that if we want to study the Sun, you have to fly to the sun. However, up to now almost all the solar observatory work in orbit around the Earth. At a short distance from our planet operates Europe station SOHO, the Earth turning Japanese and U.S. solar observatory Hinode, and SDO. In low orbit — about 500 km above the Earth’s surface — worked Solar Observatory and the Russian Coronas-Photon.

To select such orbits have their reasons. This relative ease of starting, and high security of the equipment from the external cosmic impacts (since satellites operate under the protection of Earth’s magnetic field), and most importantly — easy communication with the spacecraft operating near the Earth, so that you can quickly change the mode of operation, and also receive large volumes of scientific information. The new device "Intergeliozond", which will be launched directly to the Sun (at a distance less than the radius of the orbit of Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun) provides researchers with a completely new opportunities.

The project is extremely complex. First of all, at such a distance from the Earth is impossible to derive a large mass of scientific equipment. On the 17 scientific instruments on board allocated a total of 120 kg. Four of the device, which makes the LPI — a block of three telescopes, coronagraph, and hard X-ray and optical heliosphere tools — there are only about 40 kg. This means that you will create new tools. The instruments are primarily weighing about 50 kg (ie had a lot of, for example, FIAN Tesis telescopes on the satellite Coronas-Photon), now must have a weight of 5 to 10 kg. What to do this, in principle, is clear: new materials for construction, the maximum reduce the weight of the majority of elements, etc. But all this — the new technologies that are yet to be developed, and most importantly, to prove that they did not reduce the reliability of the equipment. The next problem that will need to decide — is limited telemetry.

The satellite is in some parts of the orbit is distant from the Earth at a distance of 250 million km. According to calculations, even when working channels 10-20 hours per day with transmit these distances can be only a few hundred megabytes of data per day. But only one image of the Sun can take up to 8 MB. Partially deal with this is expected due to data compression (compress data without loss can be 3-4 times), but of course, we must understand that the satellite is flying is not for the mass of information, and for a rare series of unique pictures. And, of course, will have to seek a solution to the main problem — maintaining thermal conditions. At distances of Mercury’s orbit the sun turns into a star-killer. Apparatus will operate when the temperature at the front panel is about 600 degrees Celsius (many metals melted at a temperature or become ductile). The basic material for the front panel facing the sun will be the most refractory metals (tungsten, molybdenum) and alloys. It is very important to protect from heat fluxes key elements of telescopes, such as detectors, which is necessary to maintain a temperature of about 0 degrees Celsius. On the order of increasing radiation exposure to the filters. In addition to the radiation flux is changing dramatically and the properties of the surrounding plasma — its speed and the density of the charged particles of the solar wind, blown by machine and are able to slowly destroy most known materials. In any project so far with such matters materials not necessary to face. The correct choice of materials, from an understanding of their behavior at high temperatures will largely depend on the success of the mission.

Says one of the developers of space telescopes for the mission "Intergeliozond," lead researcher at the Laboratory of X-ray astronomy of the Sun Lebedev Physical Institute, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Sergey Bogachev:

"Why do we need a project with such a high risk? The idea to bring the satellite to the sun appeared in the 70s. But then, just do not have the technology that can provide it. Now these technologies have emerged, and projects take the machine into orbit around the Sun at the same time began to develop in the Russian Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA). European mission called Solar Orbiter. The bulk of solar data give the observatory running around the earth in a comfortable environment and are able to transmit huge amounts of data. But in addition to these stable missions in science very important role played by the pioneering research that high-risk, often on the verge of available opportunities given, albeit limited, but extremely important unique information. That is the meaning of the "Intergeliozond."

Almost all will see telescopes on board the LPI system, will be observed for the first time in the history of science. For the first time people will see the solar corona with a resolution of about 300 km. First companion explores the polar regions of the Sun. Coronagraph developed by us for the first time take a look at the plane of the ecliptic "from above", which will see the real topology of the interplanetary magnetic field (which is the modern view has the shape of a spiral centered on the Sun), and will watch for any real trajectory moving mass ejections from the Sun to the Earth . "

Solar Orbiter project has the same huge risks and technical difficulties, but it is still under construction, in addition to the existing reliable means of monitoring the Sun (it is, and European space observatory SOHO, and satellites STEREO, and the latest NASA Observatory — SDO). Unfortunately, after the failure of the satellite Coronas-Photon in Russia is almost completely lost opportunities for the systematic solar tracking, monitoring and prediction of its activity — for example, the data that passes the LPI to Roskosmos, based solely on foreign observations. Here’s the problem, "Intergeliozond" very small satellite with limited telemetry, can not solve.

If Roscosmos will resume the research program of the sun — it can be a big observatory or grouping of several small units, distributed in orbits around the Earth — to create a scientific apparatus for such a project specialists are ready to FIAN.

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