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Sun Of A Launch For Russia
|03 февраля 2009|
Anatoly Zak of RussianSpaceWeb.com alerts to the fact that Russia is preparing to launch the country's first science satellite in years.
The satellite is the Koronas-Foton, which was designed to conduct uninterrupted monitoring and analysis of solar activity and will analyze heating of the Sun's corona, mechanics of solar bursts, and the nature of Sun cycles. According to officials involved in the project, the satellite would help to plan manned space missions, including future expeditions to Mars, by providing accurate and up-to-date forecasts of solar activity. The Sun’s influence on weather and climate on Earth would also be investigated. The Tsyklon-3 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Site 32 in Russia’s northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk, on January 29, 2009, carrying the 1,900-kilogram Koronas-Foton satellite. This is only one of a handful of scientific missions — previous satellites in the Koronas series flew in 2001 and 1994.
During its projected three-year life span, the spacecraft could snap as many as a million new images of the Sun. Around 200 hours of video are also expected to be generated. The satellite is intended for a 500-kilometer circular orbit, with the inclination 85 degrees toward the Equator, which would enable it to monitor the Sun for as long as 25 days without any Earth shadow eclipse. The satellite’s scientific payload includes an array of 12 instruments, some of which are unique in their capabilities and scientific potential. Eight instruments were designed for registering electromagnetic radiation from the Sun in a wide range of spectrum from near electromagnetic waves to gamma-radiation, as well as solar neutrons. Two instruments were designed to detect charged particles such as protons and electrons. The Koronas-Foton project was led by a Moscow-based astrophysics center at Engineering and Physical Institute, MIFI, with the participation of prominent scientific organizations in Russia, India, Poland and Ukraine.
Originally, the launch of the Koronas-Foton was scheduled for 2004. As of March 2008, the launch of was expected to be completed on June 1, 2008 and after a critical meeting of chief designers who reviewed the overall status of project the launch was expected to be initiated during the fourth quarter of 2008. By November 2008, the launch date had slipped to December 15, 2008. The spacecraft itself ended up being delivered to Plesetsk during the night from the 14th to 15th of December 2008. The launch window is now designed to insert the spacecraft into the sun-synchronous orbit, where it would be in the constant daylight for as long as three weeks beginning in April 2009.