Mon Jan 14, 2019, 11:27 PM

Russia Loses Control Over Its ONLY Hubble-Like Telescope, But Photos Are Still Coming

Published time: 14 Jan, 2019 15:55
Edited time: 14 Jan, 2019 18:44

Russia has lost control over its scientific space satellite, Spektr-R, which has one of the largest space telescopes ever sent into orbit. Ground control said it is “still alive,” however, and continues to send photos from space.

It’s been several days since Spektr-R, also known as RadioAstron, stopped responding to commands from the ground in the middle of its space flight, Russian scientists said. Last Thursday, communication between mission control and the space telescope failed, and several other attempts to revive the radio link have proven unsuccessful.

Incredibly, the Spektr-R kept sending data back to Earth, however, which added a bit of intrigue to the incident. “There is still hope – the satellite is indeed alive,” Yuri Kovalev, head of RadioAstron program, wrote on Facebook.

A selection of telescopes operating at wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum. © Wikipedia
Dubbed the 'Russian Hubble' by the media, Spektr-R is part of a small club of scientific instruments that enjoy the luxury of observing deep space without the interference of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Unlike its predecessor from the 90s, however, the Russian telescope detects radio frequencies, not visible light. While its output may not be immediately stunning to the public, it is crucial for cutting-edge scientific discoveries, enabling researchers to study objects not visible or as clear to the 'naked eye,' such as black holes, neutron stars, pulsars and astrophysical masers. Spektr-R excelled at such observations, breaking several records in angular resolution during its mission.

Launched in 2011 from Baikonur Cosmodrome to make astrophysical observations of space objects within and beyond our galaxy, the Spektr was expected to work until 2016, but it managed to continue its mission.


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