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Science
14 Jan 2019

Russia loses control of radio telescope in space: Details here

Russian radio space telescope stops responding

Russia has lost control of its only radio telescope orbiting in space.

Spektr-R was orbiting normally till last week but on January 10, it stopped responding to commands from the ground station.

Since then, Russian space agency Roscosmos has made multiple attempts to communicate with the observatory but has not been able to regain control.

Here's more on the matter.

In context

Russian radio space telescope stops responding
No response to commands, but data transmission active

Issue

No response to commands, but data transmission active

Spektr-R is not responding to the commands from Astro Space Centre - the contractor of the mission.

The exact problem with the telescope is not clear at this stage, but Nikolai Kardashev, the chief of the center, told BBC that some of its communication systems had stopped working.

However, he did note that the space telescope was still actively transmitting data back to Earth.

Mission details

Notably, Spektr-R exceeded its original lifespan

Spektr-R was launched on a mission, to study deep space radio waves, all the way back in 2011.

The telescope features a 33-foot radio antenna that works in conjunction with ground-based radio observatories and collects data on the brightest quasars, water-vapor clouds, pulsars, interstellar matter in space, and more.

The original lifespan of this project was five years, but it went way beyond that.

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There's hope for restoring communication

Hope

There's hope for restoring communication

According to the most recent update, the telescope is flying without control from the ground station.

But, Yuri Kovalev, the head of research for the project, says that "there is still hope" and ground teams might be able to weed out the problems and restore communication with the observatory.

The next contact attempt with Spektr-R will be made on January 14.

Spektr-R's successor set to launch this year

It is also worth noting that Russia already plans to launch Spektr-RG, the Russian-German successor of Spektr-R, in April. Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin has asked to speed up the preparations for its launch as well as the analysis of data from the current, non-responding orbiter.

Ask NewsBytes
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Most asked questions

Does this pose a threat to Earth?

Are there any other telescopes like this?

Can this pose a threat to Earth?

What will be the function of the upcoming Spektr-RG?

More questions

Does this pose a threat to Earth?

Asked 2 minutes ago by Charvi Kapoor

Answered by NewsBytes

No. If the spacecraft doesn't respond back, it will continue to orbit adding to the junk in space. If it, by any chance, it is deorbited, it will burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

Are there any other telescopes like this?

Asked 2 minutes ago by Aadhya Jindal

Answered by NewsBytes

Yes, but not from Russia. Just recently, Canada's Chime detected 13 new fast radio bursts from unknown, distant sources in the galaxy.

Can this pose a threat to Earth?

Asked 2 minutes ago by Vivaan Banerjee

Answered by NewsBytes

No. Losing communication won't mean that it poses a threat to Earth.

What will be the function of the upcoming Spektr-RG?

Asked 2 minutes ago by Reyansh Saxena

Answered by NewsBytes

The upcoming telescope is expected to continue the work of Spektr-R with added capabilities to conduct a 4-year X-ray survey and detect new galaxy clusters and more.

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