Russian telescope on the ISS will conduct a new census stars


MOSCOW, July 29 — RIA Novosti, Ilya Ferapontov. Russian astronomers create a new space telescope, "Lira-B", which is scheduled to be installed in 2015 on board the ISS. This tool will scan the sky and collect data for a new comprehensive catalog, which will include about 300 million stars and other objects, according to RIA Novosti, Mikhail Prokhorov, head of the laboratory space projects of the State Sternberg Astronomical Institute of Moscow State University (SAI).


"Telescope" Lira-B "will be the first Russian space instruments operating in the visible range, and the first optical telescope on board the ISS. Of course, this is not the "Hubble", but it solves its own scientific objectives — overviews in — at a good international level ", — said Prokhorov.

In the days of the Soviet Union in orbit for six years (from 1983) he worked astrophysical satellite "Astron" on board which was ultraviolet telescope and X-ray spectrometer. With it, scientists have observed, in particular, the supernova SN 1987A, which began in March 1987, and Halley’s Comet. In addition, one of the modules of the station "Mir" — "Quantum-1" — worked ultraviolet telescope "Glazar", created by specialists of the Byurakan Observatory.

Since then, Russia has not implemented major space astrophysics projects with the exception of devices for the study of the Sun series "Coronas". For decades, large-scale projects astrophysical devices "Spectrum" did not move.

But now the situation is starting to change — in early July, was successfully launched into orbit the first of the "spectrum" — a space telescope "Spektr-R", also known as "Radioastron."

SAI scientists hope that their telescope will be a worthy continuation of the Russian astrophysical program.

Stars carry on a flash drive

Complex "lyre-B" will consist of the telescope primary mirror diameter of 0.5 meters and a weight of about 70 kilograms, which is rigidly secured to the outer surface of the International Space Station.

Placement of the telescope on the ISS, instead of running it as a separate orbiter significantly reduces the cost of the mission and allows, if necessary, carry out repairs and tuning the instrument.

"This is a fairly simple delivery of equipment on board — on a cargo ship" Progress "- and set it behind the station by the crew. Second, the ability to repair the telescope with serious damage, also with the help of the crew. All this is doing an experiment on board the ISS less expensive and more reliable than the on-board autonomous satellite ", — said Prokhorov.

The length will be 1.3 meter telescope — its dimensions are determined by the internal dimensions of the space station and the ship "Progress".

"It has to be unloaded from the" Progress ", to amend the ISS carry through all the turns, hatches, and then put out through the gateway. Calculations showed that the telescope can not be longer than 1.3 meters, separately attached to it will blend a little more than a meter long, "- said Prokhorov.

Mirror Telescope is made of silicon carbide, a material that is highly durable and resistant to thermal deformation.

The data will be transmitted from the telescope into the station through the porthole — a laser beam from the telescope will go over fiber, near the window, he will defocus to a spot size 1.2 cm, and get behind the glass in the lens that will be his focus again.

"There are no holes to drill the ISS is not required. The data transfer speed reaches through the window of a gigabit per second — enough to spare. We were given a window of a Russian research module "Zvezda" — a spokesman said.

Placing telescope station solves the problem associated with the transmission of information to the earth.

According to Prokhorov, the flow of information from the telescope will be limited to 300 megabits per second. Transmit a stream of data to Earth is possible, but for this transmitter must always be in line of sight reception antenna, which is extremely difficult to achieve — receiving antennas should be placed around the globe.

"Therefore, for the communication of information was chosen another way — the data will be stored on external media, most likely it will be flash-memory modules, and then, along with the returning crew delivered to the Earth," — said the scientist.

Telescope will operate a dedicated computer with a Unix-like operating system QNX.

Fighting bumpy in space

However, the ISS, as in the base for the observatory, there are drawbacks. The most significant of them — the constant background vibrations caused by movement of the astronauts during exercise, from the ventilation and pumping water and fuel.

It is therefore still ISS was not astronomical devices operating in the "classical" visible region of the spectrum and require precise pointing at the object.

In the telescope, "Lyra" image stabilization system that compensates for vibration has been provided from the very beginning. Around the main CCD telescope will be installed a few extra that ten times a second take photos with the help of which are fixed differences between the expected and the actual coordinates of the stars. On the basis of these data gives the signals for the electronics mount has a radiation detector that can compensate for vibration.

Inventory stars

The main task of the unit will be overviews in — gathering information about a large number of stars and other objects in the sky. The result of the telescope will become the new high-precision photometric catalog, which will serve as a guide for the individual observations.

"The reviews are conducted infrequently, they last long enough, and astronomical discoveries in the course of their conduct committed by much less than in the study of individual objects. However, to make a large number of individual observations in a review can not, there’s the matter of systematic error, "- said Prokhorov.

He noted that the creation of the review it is important to observe large areas of the sky in the same conditions and using the same tool. Only in this case, you can get a set of homogeneous data suitable for further research.

At present, the most precise photometric directory is compiled by the European satellite Hipparcos, who worked from 1989 to 1993. His task was a very accurate measurement of the coordinates of approximately 120,000 brightest stars. Because of a failed satellite launch did not come out on the planned orbit and therefore made measurements with lower accuracy, but he had received catalog is still the best.

Now, however, this directory placing a lot of claims: it contains only the brightest stars in the measurement experiment conducted in a small number of spectral bands.

Prokhorov says now, astronomers need a new catalog, which would contain precise data on the brightness of the stars of the sky to the 16-17th magnitude — with the naked eye in the sky you can see the stars are not weaker than the sixth magnitude. Such a catalog would allow to conduct research in almost all areas of stellar astronomy and in many a
reas of astrophysics. In particular, it can be used it would find lots of unusual objects — from relatives of brown dwarfs to black holes.

It is the task of creating such a catalog supplied prior to the experiment, "Lear."

The telescope will be firmly fixed on the surface of the station. At the expense of the station in orbit — ISS, the Moon always faces the Earth on one side — the telescope in one round to scan a strip of 1 degree.

"Over the five years of observation, the tool will scan any part of the sky in an average of 100 times," — said Prokhorov.

According to him, scientists will have a very accurate measurement of the brightness of stars in different spectral bands, allowing precise measurements on other telescopes. Data from the "Lyra" will help to clarify the patterns of evolution of stars, it can be used to detect weak vibrations brightness of stars at the level of a percent, stars with anomalies in chemical composition.

In addition, astronomers will be able to obtain three-dimensional map of the Galaxy in the solar neighborhood.

"Measurements in the UV range allow to measure the absorption of light from the star. This immediately gives the distance to it, as the map on the absorption of radio astronomy measurements we know. That is, we can determine the distances and build a three-dimensional picture by about one-tenth of the galaxy around the sun — at distances of thousands of light years ", — said Prokhorov.

Russian astronomers go into space

In the creation of the telescope "Lear" in addition to participating SAI Petersburg University Mechanics and Optics (primary manufacturer of scientific instruments), RSC "Energia", as an organization operating the ISS, as well as TsNIIMash (Central Research Institute of Machine Building) — the main organization of expert Roscosmos.

"The decision about the possibility of full funding and implementation of the project" Lira-B "in the near future will be discussed by the Russian Space Agency," Energy "and TsNIIMash. Astronomers SAI is respected position of general director Gennady TsNIIMASH Raykunova who believes astrophysical experiments on board the ISS important part of the scientific program of the station, "- said the deputy director of the Sternberg Astronomical Institute, Sergei Lamzin.

"Cooperation and TsNIIMash SAI has a long history, and the leadership of SAI hopes that it will continue", — he added.

Work on the project "Lear" was launched in 2007. SAI is played the role of the scientific director of the experiment. By now been completed preliminary design tool.

The next step — the development of working drawings, then a copy will be made an instrument for testing, then — flying prototype.

According to estimates made at the stage of conceptual design, the manufacturing cost of the device is about 800 million rubles for five years. This amount includes delivery, installation and operation of the telescope.

"The cost of the astronauts of the ISS is about 1 million rubles per hour," — said Prokhorov.

He added that scientists have applied for partial funding from the budget of the Moscow State University, and is now being considered.

These "Lyra" will help to supplement the information from the European astrometric satellite Gaia, the launch of which is planned for 2013.

Prokhorov says this European project "cut" — high positioning accuracy has remained, but the quality of determining the spectral characteristics of the stars was significantly impaired.

"Of course there is an idea to combine Gaia astrometry and photometry," Lyra "into a single" super-directory ". And it’s sure to do ", — concluded the scientist.

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