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Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare • Jul 19, 2011

RadioAstron - Russian Space Telescope Successfully Launched From Baikonur In Kazakhstan

On Monday morning, at 6:31 am (local time) Zenith-3M launcher with Fregat-SB upper stage and Russian astrophysical observatory Spectrum-R successfully blasted into orbit from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. The RadioAstron is an international space VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) project led by the Astro Space Center of Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, Russia. ?It is a mission to launch a free flying satellite carrying a 10-meter radio telescope in high apogee orbit around the Earth to obtain images, coordinates, motions and evolution of angular structure of different radio emitting objects in the Universe with the extraordinary high angular resolution through interferometer observations in conjunction with the global ground radio telescope network. The Space Radio Telescope is based on spacecraft Spektr-R, that have been designed by the Lavochkin Association.

[​IMG]The resolution achieved with RadioAstron will allow the scientists in principle to

study the following phenomena and problems:

    [*]Central engine of AGN (Active galactic nucleus) and physical processes near super massive black holes providing an acceleration of cosmic rays - size, velocity and shape of emitting region in the core, spectrum, polarization and variability of emitting components;
    [*]Cosmological models, dark matter and dark energy - by studying dependence of above mentioned AGN's parameters with redshift, and by observing gravitational lensing;
    [*]Structure and dynamics of star and planets forming regions in our Galaxy and in AGN - by studying maser and Mega maser radio emission;
    [*]Neutron (quark?) stars and black holes in our Galaxy, their structure and dynamics - by VLBI and measurements of visibility scintillations, proper motions and parallaxes;
    [*]Structure and distribution of interstellar and interplanetary plasma - by fringe visibility scintillations of pulsars;
    [*]Building of high accuracy astronomical reference system of coordinates;
    [*]Building of high accuracy model of the Earth gravity field.

This project will operational for no less than five years.

The RadioAstron Telescope is a tenth of the size of the biggest radio telescopes on Earth, but when it's combined with ground-based observatories it will have resolution up to 10,000 times better than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Source: PopSci Image Credit: Roscosmos

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