Russia threatens to hijack the German space telescope

A view of the eROSITA X-ray telescope before final packaging in its carbon fiber chassis.

A view of the eROSITA X-ray telescope before final packaging in its carbon fiber chassis.
picture: MPE

The Russian Space Agency announced its intention to unilaterally seize a German telescope mounted on a Russian-made spacecraft. It’s horrible and irresponsible The idea, even Russian scientists We will admit.

The German developer of the eROSITA telescope, the Max Planck Institute, powered the instrument sleep mode Last February, in protest of Russia’s unprovoked and ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The X-ray telescope is the primary instrument aboard the joint Russian-German Spektr-RG mission, which Roscosmos launched into space in July 2019. The Russian ART-XC X-ray telescope is also attached to the spacecraft, working in tandem with eROSITA.

However, it now appears that Russia will restart eROSITA without the express approval of the Max Planck Institute, as such mentioned In Deutsche Welle. The head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, a loyal supporter of Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, clearly explained his intentions during a recent television interview.

“I have been instructed to begin work on restoring the operation of the German telescope in the Spektr-RG system so that it will work in tandem with the Russian telescope,” said Rogozin. Despite Germany’s demand to close one of the two telescopes at Spektr-RG, Russian specialists insist on continuing its work. Roscosmos will make the relevant decisions in the near future. ”

He added to him: “They – the people who made the decision to close the telescope – have no moral right to stop this search for humanity just because their pro-fascist views are close to our enemies.”

Spektr-RG is currently located in a halo orbit about 932,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth. The science phase of the 7.5-year collaborative mission began in October 2019. The eROSITA telescope is in the midst of The All-Sky Survey, which scans the universe in the medium X-ray range with “unprecedented spectral and angular resolution,” according to To the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. The instrument consists of seven identical mirror units, each containing 54 overlapping mirror shells that allow for the high sensitivity of the telescope.

Scientists with the eROSITA project are using the telescope to map out the large-scale structure of the universe, to detect obscured black holes in nearby galaxies, and to study the physics of X-ray sources, such as young stars, supernova remnants, and X-ray binaries.

Lev Zeleny, scientific director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, spoke out against the decision to switch eROSITA back on, saying: “Our institute—all scientists—strongly object to this proposal,” as he was quoted by the Russian state-run Gazeta Corporation. Zelini said the objection was “for political and technical reasons,” saying it was not clear if Russian astronomers would actually figure out how to use eROSITA, or whether outside journals would continue to publish any scientific findings that might come from the move.

The scientific supervisor of the Spektr-RG project, Rashid Sunyaev, is concerned that Russian astronomers may accidentally damage Germany’s telescope, as mentioned In Interfax, a private Russian media. “This is a great device, absolutely world-class, and it really gave a lot of data,” said Sunyaev. “We all dream of seeing it return to active work. But it is an amazingly complex device, and if we decide to ignore agreements with partners and turn it on ourselves, it can simply be destroyed,” said Sunyaev.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has been devastating on many levels, including the world of science. It will likely take years, if not decades, to mend these broken relationships. Rogozin’s space decision-jack telescope just make Bad situation worse. Better to think twice.

more: NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to Russia: ‘Your space program won’t be worth it’.

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